Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
Dan Maes, the Tea Party-supported candidate in the Colorado governor’s race, has argued that a popular Denver bike-share program is a “very well-disguised” part of a plan by Denver mayor (and Democratic gubernatorial candidate) John Hickenlooper for “converting Denver into a United Nations community.” Last week, Maes told the press that Denver’s membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) “could threaten our personal freedoms” because environmental initiatives like the cycling program are “very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”
Yesterday afternoon, Maes appeared on MSNBC to explain his conspiracy theory. Although the “bike program in and of itself is fine,” he said, what worries him is “what’s behind it all:”
We’re trying to differentiate myself from the mayor. If I win the primary and when I win the primary tomorrow, people are going to say what the difference is. We’re both business people. When a mayor signs onto a program sponsored by the United Nations, that should bring concern to people as to how the program may or may not be compatible with our state constitution. [Emphasis mine.]
Despite Maes’s dark fears, Denver’s participation in ICLEI carries no legal obligations and raises no constitutional issues, but does allow city planners to share information and ideas with other urban communities throughout the world. Maes has not yet commented on Colorado State University’s support for the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, the suspiciously named Denver International Airport, the University of Colorado Model United Nations Club, or Denver’s international sister cities, like Brest, France, Chennai, India, and Kunming, China.
MSNBC: To Colorado now, in a primary showdown that has one Republican candidate accusing the left of taking part in a United Nations plot. Businessman Dan Maes says Denver’s new bike-sharing program threatens Americans’ “personal freedoms.” They have stationed bikes all over the city for residents to rent. And it’s been championed by the city’s Democratic mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper. But Maes says it’s a “well-disguised” plot to turn Denver into a “United Nations community.” Dan Maes is running for the Republican nomination for governor in Colorado. Good afternoon.
MAES: Hi, how are you?
MSNBC: You know, you live in a state where there’s a lot of environmental consciousness, we keep hearing about how we’re too dependent on oil and you have a program that encourages people not just to bike around and not use gas but also presumably to get a little healthier, what’s so bad about that?
MAES: Well, the Denver Post article that you might have learned this from, it took a lot of comments out of context. The bike program in and of itself is fine. I’m a biker, I rode the seat off my mountain bike last year myself. But what we’re concerned about is this is just one piece of a larger U.N. program titled ICLEI, communities for sustainability. It also includes a lot of other dynamics within city management. I was trying to draw a distinction between myself and the Democratic mayor of Denver. So the bike program isn’t in and of itself bad. What I’m concerned is what’s behind it all.
MSNBC: What’s behind it all that has you so upset?
MAES: Well, again, we’re trying to differentiate myself from the mayor. If I win the primary and when I win the primary tomorrow, people are going to say what the difference is, because we’re both business people. When a mayor signs onto a program sponsored by the United Nations, that should bring concern to people as to how the program may or may not be compatible with our state constitution.