Hanks, William, D Valdez 021621

Rep. Donald Valdez (D-LaJara) leaves the podium after speaking at a session of the Colorado House of Representatives, but had his speech cut short when he called out Rep. Ron Hanks (left), R-Penrose, (seen with Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs), Feb. 16, 2021.

When Penrose Republican Rep. Ron Hanks ran for Congress in California in 2010, his answers to a survey on abortion, guns, gays and unions might be a surprise to his constituents and maybe even to some of his fellow members in the House caucus.

According to the Vote Smart website, Hanks responded to the issues raised in the survey "directly by taking the Political Courage Test."

Hanks (who ran under his birth name, Loren) ran for Congress in District 1, located in Northern California. He lost to a six-term Democratic incumbent, Mike Thompson, in a four-way race, garnering 31% of the vote to Thompson's 63% of the vote. 

Hanks answered "yes" to the following questions, and in an email to Colorado Politics he affirmed the positions in the survey and added context on others.

"My answers from that survey remain valid and are my positions to this day," he said. 

• Do you support abortion for women who have become pregnant through rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother?

In the 2010 survey, Hanks wrote: "I am pro-life, but I will hold open a measured and narrow window for medical experts — I am not one — to provide expertise and guidance in specific situations. We should not consider abortion a form of birth control without consequences, nor advocate it as such to our children. We must promote adoption, and remove the shame from carrying a child to term. No federal funding, and this issue would be better addressed by the individual states." No change, he wrote Monday.

• Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?
From the 2010 survey: "Law-abiding citizens should not be restricted." He added on Monday that "criminals and mentally/emotionally ill should be restricted. No change."
• Do you support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
The 2010 survey added: "No blanket amnesty programs. Offer case-by-case review — with penalties if approved." On Monday, he added that "given the radical uptick in illegal immigration into the country since 2010, we will have to review this at the federal level."
• Do you support allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military?
The 2010 survey added: "But the military must prosecute any improper behavior through the military justice system - just as we do now with adultery and improper male-female relationships." Hanks added on Monday that "since it became law of the land during this time period, it made no sense to try to repeal it. Gays have no doubt served in militaries since before Alexander the Great, and have contributed to the success of their organizations." No change, he added Monday.
• Do you support full legal rights for same-sex unions? The original question was on whether marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Hanks' response in the 2010 survey: "Full-legal rights for same-sex unions - no discriminations based on relationship profiling." No change, he added Monday.
• Do you support federal funding for the development of alternative energy, including nuclear reactors, which you called "green energy" in the Vote Smart answer? This is a combination of two questions, on federal funding for alternative energy and development of nuclear reactors.
From the 2010 response, Hanks cited "Very limited funding, for purposes of national security research," and "clean, green, safe nuclear is an answer to many of our problems." No change, he added Monday.
• Do you support the ability of workers to unionize?
Hanks reiterated Monday "Yes. But not federal government employees." No change, he said Monday.

• Do you still oppose decreasing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country?

From the 2010 survey, Hanks explained that "legal immigrants are and should be welcome. No restrictions on LEGAL immigrants." No change, he said Monday.

• Do you oppose domestic oil exploration in federally-protected areas?

In the 2010 survey, he added "Certainly not in national parks. We must clearly define 'federally protected.' " On Monday he added that "I have fracked in North Dakota and fully support the industry and the environmental stewardship those men and women demonstrate."

• Do you oppose federal funding for charter schools and K-12 vouchers?

Hanks noted his response in the 2010 survey, which was not directed at a specific question from a list of five. "Federal involvement has been an expensive failure. Remove distant bureaucracy and return control to people and states. Return that 50 billion dollar annual budget to the states and people to use as they deem appropriate." No change, he said Monday.

During the 2020 campaign season, Hanks did not respond to voter guide questions (see here and here and here). An "issues" page on his website says he's pro-life, pro-gun, pro-energy, pro-liberty, pro-Constitution and pro-TABOR.

Hanks has earned a reputation since even before taking office in January.

During the November special session, Hanks, who was not yet sworn in, was loud and interrupted third reading votes. He was asked to leave because of the disruption as well as for not wearing a mask on the House floor, leading to a confrontation with House leaders and Jon Judson, the chief sergeant-at-arms. 

He missed most of the first three days of the session that started on Jan. 13, staying just long enough to be sworn in and cast one vote, for Speaker of the House. Hanks missed at least 28 votes in those three days, including votes on seven bills. A close friend said the Penrose lawmaker had laryngitis.

Hanks also admitted he had gone to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 to participate in the "Stop the Steal" rally, though he denied participating in the storming of the U.S. Capitol. He also claimed those who stormed the Capitol were antifa, although there has been no evidence that anyone other than Trump supporters took part in the insurrection. A call to investigate his Jan. 6 activity by a Democratic House member was denied by leadership.

There have also been questions raised about why there are two lawmakers who cite Penrose as their address (Republican Rep. Stephanie Luck is the other). However, a review of voter registration records and TRACER reports shows that while Hanks lists a post office box in Penrose as his mailing address, his voter registration (for Loren Lowell Hanks, his legal name) lists a street address, effective August 2019, in Cañon City. 

Last week, he stirred up anger from Democratic lawmakers when he joked about lynching (he had been accidentally referred to as Rep. Lynch) and then claimed the "three-fifths compromise" didn't impugn the humanity of slaves during the debate on a bill on civics education.

Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, said Hanks' remarks were no surprise. 

"Hearing Rep. Hanks’ revisionist retelling of one of our nation’s darkest, most dehumanizing chapters was hurtful.... The irony of having this brash display occur in the midst of a debate on strengthening our civics education was tragically adequate," Bacon said.

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