State Rep. Rose Pugliese (R-Colorado Springs) has held many titles in the course of her career: first an attorney, later Mesa County commissioner, and now assistant minority leader for Colorado’s statehouse Republicans. But for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Pugliese is more than that. According to the controversial Congresswoman, Pugliese is at least part of the reason Boebert got involved in politics.
Boebert had plenty of praise for Pugliese last week, when Pugliese visited Washington, D.C. to testify at a congressional hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee.
“Rose is what she calls an ‘accidental politician.’ I’m kinda one of those too, Rose, and it’s almost your fault,” Boebert said, pausing briefly to laugh. “Rose actually inspired me with a statewide ballot initiative to enshrine what our founders had the idea for in our country, and we wanted to protect those ideals. And it certainly inspired me to be where I am today.”
The statewide ballot initiative Boebert obliquely referenced was Proposition 113, which in 2020 asked voters to approve Colorado Democrats’ passage of a bill that added the state to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Pugliese co-led the initiative’s campaign, pushing for the National Popular Vote bill to be recalled by a “No” vote. While this received broad support from prominent Republicans, including Boebert herself, Proposition 113 was ultimately approved by Colorado voters.
During the hearing, Pugliese spoke at length on Boebert’s newly-introduced CONVEY Act, which would officially transfer 31.1 acres of land, all of which is on the Bureau of Land Management’s disposal list, to Mesa County. Pugliese said this was a project that she had spent much of her career as Mesa County Commissioner fighting to get done.
“Then we found out that as the Bureau of Land Management was investigating title, that the Bureau of Reclamation also had an interest in this land. And so then we had to go through some more bureaucratic red tape, which leads us to literally an act of Congress that it will take today to convey this land, but the Bureau of Reclamation was holding up any sort of transfer,” Pugliese said.
The bill is also supported by U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Ken Buck (R-CO).
Boebert has a history of fighting back against what she has called “land grabs” by the federal government; notably, in the past, she vowed to oppose President Joe Biden’s “30×30” initiative, which aimed to preserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030.
The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, which is currently chaired by Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis, also resolved to oppose the initiative.
In 2010, before her stint as county commissioner, Pugliese helped collect signatures for a petition to demand Mesa County schools stop teaching students about climate change. Almost a decade later, in 2019, she indicated that this was still her belief when she promoted an event at Colorado Mesa University hosted by Steve Goreham, who had published multiple books disputing climate change.
“It [global warming] is not a proven scientific theory. There is not evidence to support it,” Pugliese once said publicly. She did not immediately respond to an email inquiring as to whether she still believes this. This article will be updated with any response received.
In 2018, Pugliese also endorsed Tina Peters in the race for Mesa County clerk and recorder. After taking office, Peters would go on to tamper with Mesa’s confidential election files, and in subsequent years has faced a litany of legal troubles stemming from this. One of these cases concluded in April, with Peters being sentenced to four months of home detention and 120 hours of public service.
Boebert, who has also pushed back on measures to mitigate climate change and previously been a close associate of Tina Peters, still acclaimed Pugliese’s work as county commissioner, particularly with regard to her persistence in acquiring the aforementioned parcel of land.
“Thank you so much for your diligence, and really just being so steadfast on this. You truly are one of the great leaders from Mesa County – I know you’re not in Mesa County anymore, but you left a legacy there, and there’s so much that you’ve done for that community,” Boebert told Pugliese at the hearing.