Journalists should question McInnis about water articles

When someone gets $150,000 from the Hasan Family Foundation to write a series of in-depth articles, you’d think journalists, being writers themselves, would want to see what was written.

Especially if the writer is Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis.

Yet, as far as I know, no Colorado journalist has asked McInnis to see the fruits of his writing labor.

I wrote previously that when Craig Silverman and Dan Caplis had McInnis on their KHOW talk-radio show, McInnis said he wrote a “series of in-depth articles on water” when he was a senior fellow at the Hasan Family Foundation. But the hosts didn’t ask to see the writing on this big CO issue. The foundation’s attorney told me that McInnis could release the articles if he wanted to, but McInnis’ spokesperson didn’t have time to get back to me last week.

So I’ve continued to try to fill in the journalistic gap and locate the articles.

First, I emailed Craig Silverman and asked if he’d make up for his interview lapse and ask McInnis, next time he’s a guest on Craig’s talk-radio show, if he’d make his water articles public.

Silverman emailed me back that he appreciated my suggestion, but he wouldn’t commit to asking McInnis about the water articles.

So I moved on.

My friend heard a rumor that Pueblo Chieftain publisher Bob Rawlings might have helped fund McInnis’ work on the articles…-or at least he might know where his writing is.

“I don’t know anything about that, Jason. I’m sorry,” he answered. “I’ve very involved in water issues but I haven’t funded any studies for Scott McInnis.”

Have you ever seen any articles he’s done on water?

“Well, I’ve never heard of them, but my memory isn’t as good as it used to be,” Rawlings said. “Our water guy here [at the Chieftain] is Chris Woodka, and I think probably he’s the best one to answer your question.”

So I called Woodka, who’s a well-known water wonk, but he’d never heard of articles by McInnis on the topic.

Woodka told me that John Orr is one of the few people  who reads more arcane stuff about Colorado water than he does.

I knew about Orr, because he’s the writer and editor of the highly regarded Coyote Gulch blog, a regular stop for most everyone who tracks water issues in Colorado.

“I don’t have any recollection of a water series by him so it may have been before 2003 when I started paying close attention to the issue,” Orr told me. (McInnis was a Hasan fellow from 2005  to 2007.) Neither had Orr seen any single article by McInnis.

Orr suggested I try Loretta Lohman, editor of Nonpoint Source Colorado.  She had never seen anything, either. Neither had the head archivist at Colorado State University’s Water Resources Archive.  Nor the Water Congress. Nor the editor of the High Country News.

I tried the Colorado River District, which has this slogan on its homepage: “Protecting Western Colorado Water since 1937.”

Perfect, I thought.

The receptionist put me in touch with Jim Pokrandt, Communication & Education Specialist. He’d never seen any articles by McInnis and neither had his colleague, Manager of External Affairs Chris Treese.

But Pokrandt told me that McInnis had been a keynote speaker at the CO River District’s annual seminar in Grand Junction in 2005. McInnis’ expenses had been covered by the Hasan Family Foundation, but, unfortunately, no written record of his speech was available, he said. However, he found the title of McInnis’ keynote address: “Washington in the rear-view mirror.”

Maybe this formed the basis for something in depth?

If so, it seems odd that none of the water experts mentioned above know about it. In talking to the various water experts I contacted, it became clear to me that it would be quite strange for McInnis or any serious researcher to write a stealth paper on Colorado water, not to mention a stealth series. It seems like Colorado water researchers and policy people consult each other on the technical details of this complicated topic.

I emailed the McInnis campaign, asking again for a response or to see the articles, and heard nothing back.

So I left hoping that Craig Silverman finds his inner journalist and queries McInnis about this, since Craig is the guy who’s apparently come closest to asking McInnis about it.

Or The Denver Post should push for an answer from McInnis, since a Post story first introduced McInnis’ $150,000 in Hasan income into the campaign debate. And, of course, The Post has taken the lead among news outlets in trying to get all of the gubernatorial candidates to disclose their income tax records for public review.

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