InnerView with Muhammad Ali Hasan
One-time state treasurer candidate has new party, new name
By Jody Hope Strogoff & Ernest Luning
Colorado’s most prominent Republican Muslim is switching parties, taking on a new name and is very, very happy, he wants everyone to know.
Muhammad Ali Hasan — who has twice run for state office under the GOP banner and says he grew up gazing at an autographed photo of Ronald Reagan — tells The Colorado Statesman he’s now a Democrat because his lifelong party has traded concerns about liberty for security and abandoned even the pretext of fiscal conservatism. And he plans to change his name to Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan to acknowledge his Spanish heritage while honoring an historic figure who stood up against intolerance.
Hasan, founder of Muslims for Bush, is the scion of a wealthy Colorado-based family that made a fortune founding a health-care empire and has been one of the state’s most generous donors to conservative and Republican causes. He lost a race for House District 56 in 2008 and came up short this year in a bid to run for state treasurer, missing a spot on the primary ballot at the state GOP assembly. After that loss, he says he packed up his truck and moved to Los Angeles to devote his energies toward a nascent film career. But he’s keeping his hand in politics, unveiling an organization called Constitutionalists for Gays and Immigrants and speaking frequently.
In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview, Hasan said he wrestled with his party switch but finally decided his hard-line fiscal views would find a home with Democrats while his pro-immigrant and pro-gay positions would shut off his future with Republicans. Two key debates helped him decide, Hasan says. First was the GOP’s embrace of a harsh anti-illegal immigrant bill passed in Arizona this spring, which Hasan says “opened a Pandora’s Box of quasi-bigotry.”
The second was the debate this summer over whether developers could build a Muslim community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, blocks from Ground Zero. Hasan took to cable news shows and online publications to combat right-wing demogoguery against the mosque and credits his arguments with helping turn public opinion. Hasan also says the mosque debate in September cost Republicans the U.S. Senate by distracting voters from what he says would have won even bigger gains for the GOP, hammering the Democrats on health care reform.
Hasan says he consulted political mentors about making the switch and got the go-ahead from anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce, father of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a document Hasan still considers sacred. While former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer and former State Treasurer Mark Hillman advised him he was “making a big mistake” after he informed them of his plans, Hasan picked up support from another prominent Republican known to Hasan as “Uncle Buck,” recent U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck. “We don’t agree on everything, but I’m very proud of you,” Hasan says Buck told him.
Hasan blames a whisper campaign among Republican state assembly delegates for derailing his campaign for state treasurer in May. Word spread quickly that he was authorized by his Muslim faith to “lie to non-Muslims in order to advance a Sharia agenda” and somehow planned to implement Sharia law with the state’s finances, a notion Hasan says is both laughable and wrong-headed. He confesses he did have a secret plan if he won the treasurer’s office, though: to use the state’s investments to somehow force the federal government to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall Act to regulate financial markets.
Hasan also lays to rest rumors the Hasan Family Foundation was out to get former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, whose gubernatorial campaign went off the rails this summer amid charges he plagiarized papers written for the foundation as part of a $300,000 fellowship on water issues.
Hasan joined Statesman editor and publisher Jody Hope Strogoff and political reporter Ernest Luning for a 90-minute interview at The Statesman offices on Dec. 16. Read more than a dozen other InnerViews with prominent Colorado political figures, at www.coloradostatesman.com/innerview.
The transcript of the conversation with Hasan has been edited for length and clarity.
Colorado Statesman (CS): I read some quotes from your mom about you switching (parties), and she’s going to stay with the Republicans?
Because she just, she’s taken it a lot more — she’s always taken it seriously, but she has two grand kids now. And when they said, “We’re going to repeal the 14th Amendment,” they woke a sleeping giant (laughs). And she said, “You know, if they actually repeal this, this is just a complete targeting of brown people. This is going to be stripping away citizenship from Latinos, from Muslims.” And she said, “Who knows who’s next? Jews, Asians?” So between Arizona 1070 [a harsh anti-illegal immigration bill signed into law in Arizona in April], the mosque [a planned Muslim community center in lower Manhattan near the site of the World Trade Center that drew strong opposition] and then it was the 14th Amendment that really did it in. And that’s when my mother said, “Baby, I release you from the GOP. And, as a matter of fact, if you don’t leave, I will support your opponent if you ever run for future office.”
CS: Was it a long process for you to think about it or did you sort of just wake up one day… ?
A lot of people think that it was the (Republican) state convention where I decided to switch and that couldn’t be further from the truth. [Ed. note: Hasan failed to make the ballot in his bid to run for state treasurer at the state GOP assembly in May.] The proof is the fact that at the convention — and you guys interviewed me there and I quoted it there, I said, “I love the delegates, I love my party, I accept their decision.” And I said, “I’m going to work to help the GOP capture the state House, the state Senate and I will endorse the eventual nominee.” The night that Walker Stapleton won, I wrote him an endorsement on my website, which is still there. That was well before J.J. Ament wrote an endorsement, I gave max contribution to Walker. And I think if you look at (Colorado Secretary of State) files, I don’t think that any individual in Colorado gave more to rookie GOP House and Senate candidates in Colorado than I did.
So I kept that promise. I felt like bigotry happened at the convention but I felt like it was an aberration. What happened, though, was that, again, you know, Arizona 1070, California Prop 8 against gays, the 14th Amendment, the mosque, the moment that I really had to question whether I’d be a Republican again is — again, I don’t know for sure if I’m going to run again, but I’d like to have the option — and when I went on Fox News, as I was cinching my bolo tie, waiting to debate Laura Ingraham, it was like a lightning bolt struck me. Because I said, “I’m never going to be able to run as a Republican in my life.” I said, “In my lifetime, if you play what I’m about to say on Fox as a 30-second commercial in any Republican primary, I’m finished. There is no way I will survive that.”
So at that point, that’s when I started to say, “Well, maybe I should be an independent because I don’t think Republicans seem to care about fiscal conservatism anymore. And I’m pro-liberty — I don’t think they care about the liberty of illegal immigrants and gays.” And that’s when (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s people called me up and said, “We’re familiar with your work and Speaker Pelosi wants to recruit you to be a Democrat.”
CS: Was this in November?
CS: So before the election?
CS: Did you wind up voting for Republicans this year?
CS: Secret ballot?
‘Speaker Pelosi, I love you like crazy’
But the meeting with Nancy Pelosi was a big turning point in my life, because this was the third most powerful person in the world. She was there, actively recruiting me to become a Democrat and I was very honest with her. I said, “Speaker Pelosi, I love you like crazy, I love that you’re always defending the minority.” And I said, “I’m not for universal health care, I’m a fiscal conservative, and would I have a place with the Democrats?” And she said, “as long as you can look me in the eye and tell me that what you’re doing is going to create opportunity for every American, no matter who they are, where they come from, then I consider you a Democrat.”
CS: That’s a good answer.
So that’s when the seed was planted, and it took me a while to come to terms with it (laughs), because I don’t like party switchers — when Arianna Huffington did it, when Arlen Specter did it, even when Ben Nighthorse Campbell did it, even though he was becoming a Republican, it upset me because it was like, do you guys not live with any convictions? But ultimately I rationalized it by saying that (the Republican Party) was no longer a pro-liberty party, this was a pro-security party. They obviously want to protect what the Founding Fathers have left us and I respect that, but their means of protecting it has been by trying to reduce the amount of Muslims who come to this country or who have positions of power, reduce the — not help illegal immigrants get a pathway towards citizenship. On the more religious side, not let gays get married. You know, neither party really welcomes fiscal conservatism as far as I’m concerned, but at least the Democrats are pro-liberty on the social side. So I started to get comfortable with that idea and I said, “You know, maybe I can go to them and convince them to become a little more fiscal conservative, and my efforts to help immigrants and gays are going to be a lot better if I’m united with this good party rather than just constantly fighting with the Republicans.”
CS: Did you talk to anyone in Colorado about your decision before you made it?
CS: Have you talked to (Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman) Pat Waak?
CS: What about (Colorado Republican Party Chairman) Dick Wadhams? Did you speak to any Republicans and say, “Hey, here’s your chance to keep me in the party?”
CS: You made up your mind that the party had left you before you felt you had to leave the party?
CS: Is that a fair way to characterize it?
Another big reason I switched is my mother said, “Let’s say you had won the treasurer’s race” — and it really wasn’t far fetched to think that, because our polling with David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies (showed) we were leading the Republican primary. Not by much, but we were leading it. Had we made the ballot, we would have made a pretty darn good push.
CS: Was that among delegates or among Republican voters?
I had the endorsement of Douglas Bruce, ardent supporter of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. And my mother said, she said, “You know, Douglas Bruce is not pro-gay, doesn’t really speak much on the immigrant issues.” And she said, “Look at how much they ostracize him.” And she said, “How do you think you would have fared if you’re telling me that you would have appealed to them through fiscal conservatism?” That felt like my soul had died (laughs), because that’s when I really realized how much fiscal conservatism doesn’t mean to the Colorado Republicans. And especially now with (state Rep.) Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) wanting to introduce a 1070 here, I mean so many Republicans are getting behind him and then the same Republicans, the only issue they united under to oppose, multilaterally, was the Big Bad 3 (laughs).
So I’m looking at this party and I’m saying, “You know, state-wise, Douglas Bruce is the finest fiscal conservative to walk this earth since Ronald Reagan. We are so lucky to have him living in this state.” If he had been a U.S. senator today, I mean he would have filibustered all this TARP and bailout business and prevented it himself. And Douglas Bruce is my mentor, he’s family and I love him, but I feel sorry for him. He made the wrong decision in picking Colorado. He should have gone to Utah, he should have left California for Nebraska. Maybe he even should have just stayed in California.
But on the other hand, you look at the national GOP too, they passed TARP, you know? A reporter from ThinkProgress said, “What would Reagan say about today’s GOP?” And I said, “Reagan would say, ‘When fiscal issues went awry in my administration and people took advantage of the system, I put people in jail. You can ask Michael Milken [a junk-bond pioneer of the 1980s who ultimately spent about two years in prison on securities fraud charges]. I put people in jail. And when immigrants had issues, I gave them amnesty.’” And I would say Reagan would look at them today and say, “Okay, you have vilified immigrants who want to become citizens and help our country and you haven’t put a single person in jail over TARP. The Federal Reserve is still printing billions to trillions of dollars, devaluing our currency. What does fiscal conservatism even mean to this party anymore?”
CS: Have you talked to Douglas Bruce lately?
CS: Did you ask his advice?
CS: What did he tell you to do?
CS: And he’s still speaking to you since you made the decision?
CS: Have you encountered any — I was going to say many, but I’ll say any — other Democrats who feel that TABOR is sacrosanct the way that you do?
CS: Are there any in the whole state?
I was just speaking out for the DREAM Act at the Colorado Immigrant Rights press conference — I was very proud to be one of the keynote speakers there — and what I noticed from the Democrat activists who were there, because I was using constitutional principles on why this should pass, and they were just amped. Because they said, “You know, we need a Democrat with teeth. Someone who’s going to support immigrants and gays and not apologize.” So if I were to look at this from a conniving businessman aspect (laughs), I think most Democrats would forgive my fiscal views, provided that I’m still ardent on the immigrant and gay issues. Now I could never sell those short. If I sell those short there’s nothing that I offer to the Democratic Party.
CS: Have you heard from Dick Wadhams or anything from the grapevine?
(Former U.S. Rep.) Bob Schaffer — I’m very close with Bob Schaffer — and (former State Treasurer) Mark Hillman, they wrote me very long responses in their most polite way, saying, “This is a big mistake and you’re going to regret it” (laughs). But I have a list of about 50 Republicans who have just become family to me, in running twice, and those were the ones I e-mailed prior and said, “Guys, I am going to switch.”
CS: What about (term-limited House Minority Leader) Mike May (R-Castle Rock)?
‘Uncle Buck’ was proud of me
I will say, the person who was the nicest was (Republican Senate candidate) Ken Buck. I was a very ardent supporter of Ken Buck, he became an uncle to me on the campaign trail, I called him Uncle Buck. (Buck’s wife) Perry Buck offered to give the nomination speech at the convention. She told my mother, and for some reason my mother didn’t tell me (laughs), it’s like, “Mom, Ken Buck’s…” (laughs).
CS: Big message not to pass on — who did give the nomination for you?
CS: Well, great, that’s good.
CS: Now you’re living out in (Los Angeles)?
CS: And going to stay out there for a while?
CS: Do you find that Democrats are different and Republicans in California, versus Colorado?
CS: Are they?
So, if I run again in the future I want it to be because I’m a fiscal conservative, pro-gay, pro-immigrant candidate. So that couldn’t happen with the California Republicans (laughs). So I would say, to answer your question, the only difference is, I think some states are more right wing than others (laughs), if you can believe that. The Democrats on par, I really, I love the Latino and the gay and pro-immigrant activists. I can definitely see where my niche is being carved out with the Democrats because those are the activist who feel like, we put the Democrats in power and they don’t do a damn thing for gays or a damn thing for immigrants. So in starting this Constitutionalists for Gays & Immigrants group — if I do run again as a Democrat, that’s going to be my base, really.
CS: And you’re getting a pretty good reception?
CS: You recently changed your name or is that something you’re doing?
CS: You’ll be putting a name change ad in The Statesman, probably?
Changing name to Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan
But I’m going to be changing my — my birth certificate name right now is Muhammad Ali Hasan. I’m going to be changing it to Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan, for two reasons. One, my mother showed me genealogy records and there’s a lot of Spanish heritage, which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve been researching the Inquisition, when Muslims and Jews were kicked out of Spain, this summer. What I found is there’s actually a group called the Islamic Commission of Spain that’s working with the Spanish government and the government of Spain is this close that if you can show you have Spanish heritage, they’re going to give you citizenship. So I’m preparing an application for that, but I’m going to be writing a letter to the Islamic Commission of Spain and encouraging them that we also have to include Jews, because a lot of Jews were kicked out of Spain and nobody’s representing the Jews.
And when you look at the Inquisition, the civil rights leader who tried to stop the Inquisition was a man named Miguel de Luna, he was very vilified in Spanish history. But he single handedly tried to stop it and a lot of the Jews and Muslims — they’re called Moriscos [Spanish for “Moor-like”] — a lot of the Moriscos who were hiding, who said they’re Catholic but deep down were actually Jewish or Muslim, called themselves Miguel. And that was a “wink, wink” that, you know, I’m actually a Morisco. So in honor of them and as well as to represent the Jews and try to convince the Islamic Commission of Spain to also include Jews in their quest and not just Muslims, I’m going to add the name Miguel to my name and ask them that we should be more like our father, Miguel de Luna, and bring back not just Muslims but also Jews to Spain.
CS: Does (de Luna) have a better reputation in Spain now than he did?
CS: In the Colorado Independent or one of the stories I read, you were talking about the whispering campaign at the state convention. Do you think it was isolated at the state convention or do you really think it’s part of the Republican Party?
The state convention, that was just one after the other of these delegates, just somebody put it out there that — and this is not in the Koran — but somebody put it out there that Muslims can lie to non-Muslims in order to advance a Sharia agenda. (laughs) I’m not kidding. And everybody said, “Well, how do I know you’re not lying? How do I not know you did all this work as a lie because you want to take over the Colorado finance system and implement Sharia law?” And I’ll actually share with you guys, the nefarious goals I had (laughs) in running for state treasurer.
The goals I had was — I’m so against the Federal Reserve overprinting money over the bailout crisis. Half of our Colorado investments are with these bailout companies. What I was hoping to do, which I did share publicly, was to divest from all those bailouts. But then, I would have gone on — I have connections with Fox News and MSNBC — I would have gone on a very strident campaign to convince every other state treasurer to also divest, because I think it’s a bipartisan issue, to divest from these funds. And I would have tried to basically hold Congress hostage and all those investment bank companies hostage by saying, “Okay, we will re-invest in bailout companies if you guys re-implement the Glass-Steagall Act and stop printing money.” So, for me, I said, I’m just good enough where I can run for state treasurer and if I can get that position, I can get the Glass-Steagall Act re-implemented. That was my nefarious, mean agenda (laughs). And the thing is, I couldn’t say that on the campaign trail because the treasurer has to have Colorado’s interests in mind first and foremost. So for me to run for the state position and say I had a federal goal in mind, that would have come off very arrogant. But that was my ultimate goal. So it wasn’t to implement Sharia finance (laughs), it was to get the Glass-Steagall Act re-implemented.
CS: Did some of the (Republican) delegates explain to you how Sharia financial reform would have looked?
CS: What they were actually afraid of?
CS: And the state treasurer has… ?
CS: Big vaults full of stones?
CS: I think I saw that you mentioned J.J. Ament personally. Do you really believe he was behind it, his campaign or supporters?
Now, that said, I’m not angry at J.J. and there’s two reasons. One, I was very dirty with him too (laughs). I mean, I accused him of all sorts of things, I footnoted my data. So I wouldn’t say I’m the victim, I also threw a lot of mud and I don’t mind, that’s politics. What bothered me, though, is that people actually believed it — is that the delegates voting there actually believed that. So I’m not outraged at J.J., but I’m disappointed in the delegates.
CS: Your initial polling showed that you had 40 percent support among delegates, was that right? And you ended up with half that?
Some delegates thought I was lying
So I spoke to close to about 1,500 personally, left voicemails for the rest, but 1,500 is pretty substantial. I took a vote tally, and at least on the phone they seemed honest. Some said, “Yeah, I’m in your corner,” some said, “No, I’m not in your corner,” (laughs). And David Flaherty’s an excellent pollster, I took my whole list to him and I said, “Let’s analyze this data and try to make the best prediction we can.” A lot of my support was coming from the Western Slope where I was from, J.J. was very popular on the Eastern Plains, like he should be, so it seemed to be making sense. His best county was Arapahoe, where he was from, we were splitting Jeffco, we were leading in Denver, we were doing very well in Larimer. He was taking Weld, we were doing very well in El Paso. We crunched all this data and the analysis Flaherty and I had — and Flaherty’s really good at this — he said, “Looking at this data, 40 percent should be the basement.” He said, “I don’t see how you’d get less than 40 percent if everybody’s being honest.” He said, “And certainly we have a shot at winning this at the convention.”
And the thing is, when you talk to so many delegates, and it’s like you call Bob down in Archuleta County and Bob tells you, “I’m either for you or for J.J.” So when you see Bob at the convention and he’s wearing his credential that says, ‘Bob from Archuleta,’ it’s like, I know Bob from Archuleta. I saw so many delegates who I knew in my head, said, “I’m behind you, I’m all for you,” and they were wearing a J.J. sticker. Now the few — that was very disappointing, and the few I went to to say, “Why are you…?” I felt like I was in high school, like the girl I was dating was now wearing my rival’s varsity jacket, you know? (laughs) The few I had the gumption to actually ask and say, “Why did you switch?” they said, “Well, I don’t know if you’re lying or not.” They said, “You might be trying to institute Sharia law.” It was funny because when I was on — I gave my speech — and I got to tell you, that was the best speech I’ve ever given in my life. I felt so good about that speech. So I knew — I said, “If I lose it’s not going to be because of the speech.” I said, “This was a great speech.” When I went out on the convention floor and was in a fury, just shaking hands trying to get votes, I knew I wasn’t going to make the ballot.
CS: You knew that?
CS: Not the end of the world.
CS: You said when you had communicated your concerns about the Tea Party to Mike May — what are the concerns? Because the Tea Party bills itself as being basically fiscally conservative, a bunch of Doug Bruces: stop the spending, stop the debt.
CS: What’s really going on that’s concerning you?
So then you fast forward, then this element of security comes in — anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant. They stopped talking about the money being printed and instead started idolizing (Arizona Gov.) Jan Brewer and Arizona 1070. I’m convinced the Republicans lost the U.S. Senate over the mosque issue. It sounds silly but poll after poll showed that Americans wanted to vote out the Democrats because of health care.
August and September, you could argue, are the most key months in any election season. You guys would know that better than anyone. Because absentee ballots are going to go out mid-October, so August and especially September is the time that people really tune in, do their homework and say, “Okay, which party do I want?” They spent that entire damn month just being against Muslims and a mosque when you know, there’s only 24 hours in a day and people’s attention spans are not infinite. If they had spent that time just reminding America that look, this was the guy that mandated health care, and we’re going to be the party that’s going to take away that mandate. Instead, they just focused on the mosque. I’m positive it cost them the U.S. Senate. I think they were lucky to get back the Congress, but had they spent August and September focused on health care, I think they would have won the U.S. Senate.
The Tea Party sprung up in 2009, we’re about to enter 2011. They’ve had a good year and a half, potentially two years to make their staple on America. So what’s happened? The Federal Reserve is still printing money, to the point of devaluing our dollar. Nobody’s gone to jail over TARP. The Glass-Steagall Act has still not been passed. You could argue investment banks and commercial banks can still play around in the investment markets. Credit lines still aren’t restored. And now we have legislators being lionized to pass Arizona 1070, which has been ruled unconstitutional, and not the vision of the founding fathers.
So what has the Tea Party accomplished? They went from being a movement that was going to privatize Social Security, bring in a new era of fiscal conservatism, and it’s all been squandered. They are their own worst enemy. And America will suffer for it because we are going to have higher tax rates now. We’re going to have to pay for more social programs. So — egg on their face, you know? At least the Democrats have convictions and show you their cards. These guys got played.
CS: You’ve mentioned that you admire Jared Polis, he’s a friend?
CS: What about some of the other Democrats in the state? What about (Democratic U.S. Sens.) Mark Udall and Michael Bennet?
CS: After your Huffington Post article appeared?
CS: Their livelihood?
I’ve always admired (retiring state Sen.) Dan Gibbs. Dan Gibbs has such a connection with the people he represents, especially the people in Summit County.
CS: He was your state senator for a while?
Christine Scanlan was a very honorable opponent
Christine Scanlan is a good friend of mine, we ran very — we beat each other up but she was a very honorable opponent. [Ed. note: Scanlan, a Democrat, beat Hasan in his 2008 campaign for House District 56.] She never lied, she always put the facts out there. I was very proud to run against her, nothing upset me about losing to her.
CS: Some of the supporters did some campaigning that you didn’t think was entirely on the up and up, though, right?
CS: And now she’s going to work for Hickenlooper. [Ed. note: Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper plucked Scanlan from the Legislature last month to serve as his chief legislative lobbyist.]
CS: Have you met Hickenlooper?
CS: Who did you support in the governor’s race?
CS: But before you considered switching parties?
CS: So you’re glad that he’s governor?
CS: Any surprises in the reaction of people you thought would (react) one way and it turned out a different way (to your decision to switch parties)?
CS: Which is what, about 700 (delegates)?
CS: Have you heard from some of them since?
CS: Any of them want their money back?
CS: A lot of Republicans would say that where you wanted the Republican Party to go is where the Republican Party’s going — that supporting gay marriage and saying let’s get real on immigration and immigration reform is the future of the Republican Party. Some very prominent Republicans are out front on that. And they’re not leaving the party.
CS: They’re not changing their minds?
CS: Gave a license to be up front about that?
CS: (Former Colorado Republican Gov.) Bill Owens? It’s come up before where there was potential for that to erupt and it didn’t?
CS: They’ll describe that as being the best, least-worst alternative to keep 1070 from happening in Colorado. That’s not your take?
Republicans have become more right wing
The main thing, though, is when you go to those Central Committee meetings, most of the activists there are in their 40s and 50s. And you consider life expectancy in America — I mean this is how deeply I’ve thought about it (laughs) — because I said, “Maybe they won’t be around forever,” (laughs). I don’t want to feel that way but people will often say, “Oh, this is just a generational thing.” You know, “This is going to…” But the thing is, the Republicans have become more right wing, oddly enough. You know, you look at Reagan, they went from a pro-amnesty party to W. Bush who tried to get a Guest Worker Program passed, now to question mark. But I can guarantee that question mark is not supportive of the DREAM Act. So we’ve actually gotten more conservative, I would argue. Now I agree with the 7-9 month ban on abortion but Reagan couldn’t get that passed, it was W. Bush. So the trajectory is showing a more conservative zeal on the social issues. And when you look at any Central Committee meeting, again, people are mostly in their 40s and 50s, they’re going to be around.
CS: They’re not the dinosaurs?
CS: (State Sen.) Pat Steadman (D-Denver) is talking about introducing a bill making civil unions the law in Colorado. He’s been talking about that the last week, and there are some Republicans, he’s said, who are interested.
CS: There was some concern that the voters just voted it down four years ago [Ed. note: a state ballot initiative establishing civil unions failed in 2006], that there’s a reasonable time to wait. Two sessions ago was when they passed Designated Beneficiaries and health care for spousal equivalent for state employees. Let people see that the world didn’t come to an end and it didn’t cost the state that much, then they can point to that and say, “Look, nothing happened, now let’s —
CS: What ultimately would you like to run for?
The second thing is, on foreign policy, I want to stop — we often respond to dictators by sanctioning them or by closing free trade. That’s the worst thing we could do. Lifting sanctions and opening free trade creates middle classes in a lot of these poverty stricken countries and then they usually go on to topple the dictator themselves.
And you look at our defense systems, one reason we’ve had such a hard time in Iraq and Afghanistan is the men who are on the ground today, there’s been no — you compare the army soldier on the ground in Afghanistan right now, compare him to the one who was in Vietnam in the ’60s. It’s the same helmet, it’s the same shirt, it’s the same boots. We have the most technologically advanced Navy and Air Force, we have not advanced our Army. And the wars of tomorrow are going to be in caves (laughs) against these Al Qaeda guys, so I’d also like to be in a position where I can say on the foreign policy, number one, stop sanctioning, number two, open free trade and number three, let’s take our research and development and take our army into the next level. Because that’s the war we’re going to be fighting tomorrow.
And then is re-implementing the Glass-Steagall Act. I’m not giving up (laughs). I want to get that re-implemented. Maybe these goals can all be accomplished without me running for office, but I’m 30 years old right now, and I think I’m allowed to believe in myself because — the mosque debate, nobody was talking about bigotry and nobody was talking about the constitutional aspect of it. When I spent a week arguing on Fox News with Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly and then writing for the Huffington Post, a week later you saw a poll come out that says 80 percent of Americans believe in the constitutional right. The “bigotry” word was inserted. So for me, that was in a nice way, an ego boost because I said, “Wow, I think I really changed the national dialogue.” And not just me, but contributed — I was a big contributor.
These are the three issues. I’m 30 years old, I’m planning on living until I’m a hundred. I mean believe me, I’ve checked the BMI (Body Mass Index) (laughs), I’ve looked at all of that. I think I can live ‘til I’m a hundred. I think 70 years is just enough time to get all three of these things accomplished in addition to helping get gay marriage legalized and the illegal immigrant issue.
CS: A full agenda?
CS: Some of that will happen well before 70 years? In the next few years?
CS: Are you planning on doing a lot of speaking?
CS: Do you like living in L.A.?
CS: What part of (L.A.) do you live in?
My soul just sings out in L.A.
I’ve got to be honest, it feels like home there. I mean my soul just sings out there. After I lost the treasurer’s race I took a long time to meditate and just say, “Okay, now I’m free, what do you want to do?” Within an hour I grabbed my dog, I packed up a few things and I was in my truck on my way to L.A. (laughs).
CS: What brought you back to Colorado this visit?
CS: Do you have a date yet?
CS: That’s a fun group.
CS: Do you have plenty of supporters in the Arapahoe County Men’s? Will you be among friends when you’re there talking?
CS: Now you have to watch Keith Olbermann?
CS: That’s great. That’s a big change.
CS: In what, just a couple of weeks.
CS: So mid-September is when that started to kind of turn.
CS: There were a lot of Democrats who demagogued on the mosque too — it might not have been part of the party platform but the Republicans didn’t have a monopoly on that?
CS: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
CS: Please elaborate.
I’m inter-faith, I’m all of them
So I’m inter-faith. I’m Jewish, I’m Christian, I’m Muslim, I’m Buddhist, I’m Hindu — I’m all of them. I seek wisdom from all their holy books. I do believe Jesus is the Son of God, I believe he’s a savior, but I also adore the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. I don’t think you have to say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” and that automatically invalidates Muhammad or Krishna or Shiva. So I’ve been very inspired by Deepak Chopra and Karen Armstrong and I want to be one of those change-agents now that uses religion to show commonality between us, not division.
CS: A lot of change going on.
CS: In some ways it’s a long way from Muslims for Bush?
The polling group Terror Free Tomorrow is confirming this, the Millennium Challenge Institute is confirming this. In 25 years there is going to be no Al Qaeda, the Muslim world is going to have a burgeoning middle class, and when you ask, “What was the catalyst of this?” George W. Bush is going to be a major figure of that. History’s going to prove him to be one of the finest presidents we’ve ever had. So I’m very proud that I supported Bush. I’ll never apologize for that. But in the current Republican Party, I haven’t met a single Tea Party group that celebrates George W. Bush, they all seem to throw him under the bus.
CS: And they were the calls to declare a war on Islam, which is something you also spoke out very specifically against in the past year?
CS: Right. Well, you’ve had some fascinating things to say today. We really appreciate you coming by.
I’ve never prioritized intellect more. I mean I bought an Amazon Kindle, I’m trying to read more often. You can always tell when you’re with another intellectual because the first thing they’ll say is, “Well, I’m not very well read compared to other people.” (laughs) The moment someone says that they’re usually really well read. I’ve been seeing — I have a pastor in California that’s Christian, I have another minister who’s inter-faith, I have a lot of Jewish friends. I seek wisdom and guidance from a lot of people. But I’m very blessed — I have great health, I’ve got a great family, I’m so blessed to have this film career. I’ve never been happier. And the last thing I’d say is I adore Nancy Pelosi. The way she recruited me — I don’t agree with universal health care but I feel so blessed that there’s a person in charge who values equality so much. I think this could have gotten a lot worse if she wasn’t the Speaker. So I’m so blessed that she’s there and —
Okay, I keep saying the last thing. This is definitely the last thing, but fighting today for the immigrants, I mean fighting for the mosque is my second greatest accomplishment. Fighting for the DREAM Act right now is my greatest accomplishment. With the mosque, I received to many vilified e-mails, but I also received e-mails for people who were very thankful and I feel like the same arrows that were shot at Malcolm X and Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez, I feel like I’m pulling those same arrows out of my back right now. And I just, I go to bed every night with a smile on my face, so I’m excited.
[Ed. note: Hasan asked The Statesman to turn off the recorder so he could pass on scuttlebutt about one of the 2010 Republican campaigns off the record. He then agreed to continue the interview to talk about his relationship with Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. McInnis lost a primary to Dan Maes after a plagiarism scandal erupted this summer involving work McInnis had done for the Hasan Family Foundation, which is run by relatives. Hasan emphasized that he wasn’t speaking for the foundation in his remarks.]
MAH: Now I can’t speak for the Foundation, because I’m not a Foundation board member, but, that said, there’s this rumor going around that the Hasan family had it out for Scott because he didn’t endorse me for the treasurer’s race.
CS: We’ve heard that.
Never asked Scott McInnis for his endorsement
MAH: The thing is, I never asked Scott for his endorsement. You can go through any record you want, you can put my campaign manager, Drew Dougherty, on the witness stand, because even Drew said, “Do you want to ask Scott for his endorsement?” I said, “Absolutely not.” I never asked Scott for his endorsement for treasurer. The reason why was because, when I was running for State House against Christine Scanlan in ’08, we were calling GOP legislators and former legislators asking for their endorsement. My campaign manager at the time, Kaye Ferry, called Scott, Scott refused to give his endorsement to me. And this was despite the fact that (former U.S. Rep. and 2008 Republican U.S. Senate nominee) Bob Schaffer traveled the entire district with me. Bob Schaffer did everything he could to try to help me win that seat. But Scott McInnis refused to endorse me.
CS: For House District 56?
CS: For a particular reason, or because the Foundation was involved with him? [Ed. note: After McInnis left Congress in 2005, the Hasan Family Foundation engaged McInnis as a fellow to help solve issues surrounding Colorado’s water rights, paying him $300,000 to write a series of papers and deliver talks on the subject.]
CS: It wasn’t a like, ‘Let’s not make this look like a quid pro quo’?
CS: He just didn’t step up?
And that’s when Mike May and (state House Speaker-designee) Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) and (state Rep.) David Balmer (R-Centennial), but especially Mike May, got in touch with me and said, “You know, we would really love to have you in the state House.” So my running for 56 was really a result of Mike May and I give some credit as well to David Balmer and Frank McNulty and (Republican Reps.) Amy Stephens and Jerry Sonnenberg and Jim Kerr. Those guys put together a very strong delegation and just said, “We would really love to have you.” And I was honored to run for them, I was very proud to be under their wing.
But no, Scott didn’t — Kaye never told me why Scott didn’t agree to endorse me for House District 56, which I didn’t understand because there wasn’t any other Republican running (laughs). So when it came time to garner endorsements for state treasurer, I never asked Scott. What was the point of asking if he wasn’t even going to endorse me for State House?
CS: So that didn’t have anything to do with what eventually happened?
So it was disappointing but it wasn’t — it was never a vendetta thing. It wasn’t like I was out to get Scott McInnis, it was just (laughs) — it was one of those things where I just said, “Okay, well I guess I can’t rely on Scott McInnis.” So if I need advice or I need help, I think I’m going to call Bob Schaffer or I’ll call Mark Hillman or I’ll call Mike May or David Balmer.
CS: Have you had any correspondence or communication with Scott since — ?
CS: Where do you go from there?
And so, no, we had no idea on that and the Foundation never told Scott he could hire a research assistant, so you know… Again, when my mother saw the interview with Rolly Fischer [the water expert McInnis blamed for the plagiarism], again, she said, “Okay, I’m going to (be sick to my stomach),” (laughs).
But I will compliment Scott McInnis, he paid back the money, so he paid back the entire $300,000. It was the Foundation that requested the money. It only took, from what I recall, just a few days, and it was back in the account. So he was very honorable in that regard.
CS: All of it, not on a payment schedule or anything?
CS: Okay. I hope it’s OK that we asked you about that.
CS: Wasn’t the story out there that releasing the papers and instigating the entire investigation was some sort of vendetta against Scott?
CS: What you’re saying is that Foundation members, they learned about it at the same time the rest of the state did?
CS: I think we all got those at the same time, with the word “Draft” stamped across them?
CS: Yes, right.
CS: Make sure they match?
CS: They felt they —