Archive for August, 2010

9News “Truth Test” confirms that Buck opposes the right of a raped woman to choose the morning-after pill

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

9News’ excellent “Truth-Test” series, which checks the facts of political ads, confirmed today that U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck supports a ban on the morning-after pill, even for a woman who is raped by a family member.

The Colorado Independent, the Free Colorado blog, and others have pointed out that this is consistent with Buck’s endorsement of the Personhood amendment.

In fact checking an advertisement by Buck’s opponent Michael Bennet, 9News reported today:

Buck believes life “begins at conception,” so birth control methods that don’t impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what’s known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him. (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latter category included at least 5.2 million women in America between 2006-2008. (Source: CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/abc_list_e.htm#emergency)

I’m trying to determine if there are indeed forms of the pill that do no harm to zygotes, otherwise known as an egg and a sperm that have formed a union. Most if not all forms of the pill apparently do pose a serious threat to zygotes, so Buck is apparently against most if not all forms of the pill. But I’ll research this more and report back.

Question of the week for reporters: Does Buck oppose the morning-after pill even for a woman who is raped by a family member?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

The Denver Post on Sunday became the first major news outlet in Colorado, with the exception of the Associated Press, to report that Ken Buck opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

This leads to a second question, which will be the first in my regular series, “Question of the week.” The question-of-the-week will be my suggested query for reporters to ask a specific policymaker, activist, elected official, or candidate. It will not always focus on Ken Buck, like this week’s question.

It appears that Ken Buck not only opposes a women’s right to choose abortion if she’s a victim of rape and incest, but he also supports a ban on the use of the morning-after pill or possibly other types of birth control, even in the case of rape and incest.

On KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show Aug. 4, Buck suggests that he’s opposed the use of the morning-after pill, even in the case of rape and incest. Here’s the transcript:

Craig: -Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

Furthermore, Buck’s support of the Personhood amendment, which grants zygotes citizenship rights, would presumably include complete opposition to the use of some birth control measures, including the morning-after pill, even in the case of rape and incest. The Colorado Independent has been on this here.

So, the question for reporters to ask Buck:

Do you support a ban on the use of the morning-after pill even for a woman who is raped by a family member?

Fox 21 erred in reporting that Buck held “U.S. Senate unity rally”

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Fox 21 reported Monday that Ken Buck held a “U.S. Senate unity rally” Monday night in Colorado Springs.

But Buck spokesman Owen Loftus told me today that Buck’s stop in Colorado Springs was a normal campaign rally, not a GOP U.S. Senate unity rally.

“That was just a mistake on Fox 21′s part,” he said, adding that “if we were to have a unity rally, we would make a big deal of that.”

“There were Norton supporters there,” he added. “They are coalescing around Ken now.”

He pointed out that Allison Sherry of The Denver Post covered the Colorado Springs event, and she did not describe it as a U.S. Senate unity rally.

Sherry reported that Buck encouraged his supporters at the Colorado Springs rally to support gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes as well as incumbent Attorney General John Suthers.

Fox 31′s weekday anchor and Vice President of News Operations Joe Cole reported:

Republican nominee Ken Buck was in town for a U.S. Senate unity rally. He’s trying to gain support from Jane Norton’s supporters whom he beat in the Republican primary. He is also turning his focus to incumbent Democrat, Senator Michael Bennet.

In its report on the rally, Fox 21 pictured Buck with the tag “unity rally” at the bottom of the screen.

It appears that the Fox 21 reporter may have thought Buck’s statement of support for Maes and Suthers was a U.S. Senate unity rally when in fact it was just Buck getting behind the GOP candidates for governor and Attorney General.

Cole did not immediately return a call for comment.

Journalists implicitly excuse extreme political positions by labeling them as “personal”

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck is saying his support of a ban on abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, is a personal belief.

In response to this, a fair-minded journalist …• even a commentator …• shouldn’t set up a false dichotomy between Buck’s “personal” political views and all the rest of his policy positions.

That’s what Denver Post opinion writer Chuck Plunkett did in a Spot blog post Aug. 13. He wrote:

“Some of Buck’s personal beliefs will hurt him. If he doesn’t get out in front of the labeling game, they could hurt him a lot. [Plunkett linked to a story about Buck's abortion stance.] But his central interest …• what truly animates him …• isn’t the social-issue stuff that drove old-school conservatives in Colorado like Marilyn Musgrave.”

I asked Plunkett via email if he thought it was factually accurate to separate Buck’s position on abortion from his other policy positions, by describing it as “personal.”

I mean, any political belief can be defined as personal, as guided by ethics or religious morals, or at least a politician can claim that it is–just like a candidate’s belief about abortion.

The “personal” label unfairly implies that the issue should be taken off the table, or at least partially ignored.

Plunkett responded quickly, saying he’d amplify later but the short answer is that Buck’s abortion positions “stem from religious beliefs — so, beyond just …personal.’”

This gave me the opportunity to point out to Plunkett that Buck told KHOW’s Craig Silverman that his position on abortion wasn’t derived just religion anyway but from a combination of his “upbringing,” “faith,” and “life experiences.”

I wrote Plunkett that this looks like the same process I use as the basis for some of my own political views, and I’m an atheist. (So I’d re-define “faith” to mean “faith in fellow homo sapiens.”)

Ethics or religious morals can be tied up with almost any legislative decision, like, for example, whether everyone has a right to health care or how much money to spend on education or whether we should house the homeless. As Jim Wallis likes to say, the federal budget is a moral document.

Plunkett responded:

“I don’t think the way a person’s religious beliefs affect his views on abortion is the same — at all — as how that faith shapes his approach to policy issues involving the homeless, or educating children or ensuring that everyone has access to quality health care. There are many ways to approach those issues, but if you believe that life begins at conception and that it would be murder to end that life, what are you supposed to do? You don’t have a choice but to advocate for that fertilized egg to follow its natural course. If that means a baby is born, that means a baby is born — even if that child is the result of an unholy union brought on by a rape or incest.”

Trouble is, any ideology can control a person, whether it’s religious or, as I pointed out to Plunkett later, antinuclear.

I’ve seen this conviction in non-religious activists on the left, who come out, for example, against the entire nuclear fuel cycle from mining and uranium processing to nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and x-rays.

I mean, think of a political issue, from homelessness to education, and you can find an ideological advocate, often principled ones.

How about the hunger activists who says America’s wealth is unconscionable and we have no choice but to spend a tiny fraction of our federal taxes to feed the millions of children who die annually from Hunger? A personal view? Ideological? Whacko?

So Buck’s ideological religious faith shouldn’t give journalists the right to put his abortion views in a separate “personal” category, just like you wouldn’t expect journalists to label the marginalized views of ideological hunger or antinuclear activists as “personal.”

Plunkett, who’s pro-choice and finds Buck’s view “too extreme” yet “understandable,” didn’t accept my argument, but I think he hit the nail on the head when he wrote back:

“I could argue to you that anyone who lets their no-nukes belief get in the way of beneficial uses — like green (minus the radiation) energy — is a whacko. But in our society, if you want to be taken seriously, it’s difficult to say that about people with religious faith.”

He’s right, unfortunately, even if religious people make marginalized, whacko arguments like abortion should be banned if a father rapes his daughter.

But journalists shouldn’t implicitly excuse them by calling these beliefs “personal.”

Why is CO local TV news ignoring Buck’s views on abortion?

Friday, August 20th, 2010

For people like me who still miss the Rocky Mountain News, I decided to ask two former Rocky media critics why local TV news in Colorado hasn’t covered U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck’s position that abortion should be banned, even in the case of rape or incest. 

It seems to me that it’s the kind of political tidbit that’s understandable to a wide audience, and so it might make good TV, especially because there’s a video of Buck saying it.

Former Rocky media critic Greg Dobbs first doubted that I could assert that there was no coverage of Buck’s stance. He emailed me:

“First, if you’re certain that local TV news hasn’t reported Buck’s statement on abortion, so bet it. But I’m not. Unless every local newscast is monitored for every single story, whether a video package or a simple “tell” by the anchors— and unless every bullet point in every story is catalogued— I can’t automatically accept your premise. Again, you might know for a fact that no one has told this story about Buck, let alone shown the video, but I don’t.”

Dobbs is smart to be skeptical.

There’s a huge amount of local TV news pulsating across Colorado at almost any given moment in three TV markets: Denver, Colorado Springs/Pueblo, and Grand Junction/Montrose. As you may know if you’ve ever looked at the number of shows aired each day, the number of hours is staggering. The total varies by station but, for stations like CBS4, 9News, and 7News, the news programming starts at about 5 a.m. for a couple hours, picks up again around noon for a half hour or hour, pops up again in the late afternoon for an hour or two, and then concludes with the 10 p.m. broadcast. Plus weekends. In case you’re ever star-struck by a TV journalist, just remember how much work it takes to fill those broadcasts, even if much, but certainly not all, of the content is simplistic.

I told Dobbs that I engaged a service, NewsPowerOnline (and there are others), that monitors all of it, from the 5 a.m. newscast to the late-night broadcasts. It does this by searching for key words in the closed captioning. The technique had been used in the media-monitoring world for years. It’s not 100 percent accurate, because the computer-generated transcriptions sometimes garble words, but it’s pretty amazing.

My comprehensive search covered all local TV news programs and found no mention of Buck’s abortion stance in the past year. (For my initial blog post on this topic Wednesday, pointing out that major media had essentially ignored Buck’s abortion stance, I did a simple web search of Denver TV stations’ websites. The Newspoweronline search was much better.)

Dobbs wrote that he is “put off by the general emphasis in TV news on the candidates’ horserace rather than the issues with which the winning candidate will struggle.” And this “might help explain why Buck’s views on abortion haven’t gotten the attention you think they should.”

He continued:

“A key issue for you (or anyone else) isn’t necessarily a key issue for the electorate. If the shoe were on the other foot and newscasts focused ceaselessly on abortion at the expense of the economy, it would raise even bigger questions.

I’m not saying that any candidate’s position on abortion should be covered at the expense of the economy. I want both covered, and I agree that given the wide public concern, the economy should get more coverage than abortion.

After all, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that while abortion isn’t a top-tier interest of voters, they consider the issue of abortion in voting decisions:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters say abortion is at least somewhat important as an issue in terms of how they will vote in November, with 33% who say it is Very Important. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say it’s not very or not at all important to them as a voting issue.

Dobbs continued:

“Anyway, if mainstream Republicans have said anything this year about what matters, it is that they want to focus on the economy and jobs; they themselves are trying to put ‘social’ issues on the back burner.”

Dobbs is right that GOP candidates have said this, but if you’re a reporter, you have to look at what Buck, specifically, has said about how seriously he’d take social issues, if he’s elected to office. He says he thinks Senate Republicans have shown weakness in not dealing with them.

I posted this radio transcript previously, but it proves my point so well here that I must copy it again. This is an exchange May 21 between Buck and Jim Pfaff on KLZ  radio AM560.

Pfaff: “These social issues, like marriage, these are critical issues. It has been one of the great weaknesses of the Republican Party not to deal with these critical issues.”

Buck: “I agree with you that I think it has been a weakness of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, and I think it’s time that we look at the people we are sending back to Washington DC and making sure those people are sticking by the values they espouse on the campaign trail,” Buck responded.

Addressing another point, Dobbs wrote, “Third, it’s my guess that to date, TV news hasn’t told much or anything at all about Bennet’s positions on abortion. If my guess is right, should it be skewered for that?”

No, I would not skewer TV for not covering Bennet’s views, which are not as far out of the norm as Buck’s. But Bennet’s views should also be covered, to allow voters to contrast the two candidates.

Dobbs concluded his email to me with something I agree with. “Finally,” he wrote, “as a lifelong TV news journalist, I think it’s fair to say that newscasts are limited by a number of things: the restrictive length of stories, the fact that things must stay simple because people can’t go back and reread what they’ve heard, and the number of topics they must cover in a single political race.  

In a subsequent telephone call, Dobbs added:

“Buck’s stand is clearly outrageous to people on the pro-choice side of the abortion issue. But to people on the pro-life side, the most outrageous position is one that supports virtually any kind of abortion at all, because they consider that murder. Unless we’re talking about something universally outrageous, like suggesting the execution of everyone who’s gay, although in some parts of the world even that is not considered outrageous, I don’t want my news providers to make news decisions based on what they think is politically outrageous or not.”

As Sarah Palin might say, this sounds all objectivey, but tell me, how is a journalists supposed to decide what’s news without at least considering the “outrageous” factor? It’s part of what makes news.

And in this case, polls show between 70 and 80 percent of adults think abortion should be legal in the case of rape and incest. A journalist has to try to connect to the mainstream sensibility and respond to it. Sometimes this means giving voice to marginalized views, like’s Buck’s on abortion, that later become mainstream, precisely because the media has spotlighted them.

For another view on this issue, I emailed another former Rocky media critic, Dave Kopel.  

Asked if he thought local TV news should cover the issue, Kopel wrote, “Well, I almost never watch local TV news, so it’s hard for me to have an opinion on whether they’re covering that issue sufficiently compared to other issues.”

I asked Kopel if he thought the existence of video of Buck articulating his position on the issue should have made it easier for local outlets to cover it. Kopel responded, “I don’t think that the video makes any difference. It’s not a position he has been hiding or changing his mind on. According to his website: ‘opposed to abortion except to protect the life of the mother. ‘”

I agree. The video of Buck stating his position is irrelevant. Reporters should just talk to him about it.

Talk-radio host’s questioning of Buck is model for CO reporters, who’ve essentially ignored Buck’s opposition to abortion in the case of rape and incest

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

No matter what you think of abortion, it’s fair to say that U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck’s opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, is newsworthy.

But surprisingly, this tidbit about Buck has barely seen the light of day in the Colorado mainstream media.

It has yet to appear in The Denver Post, and it got exactly 21 words in one Spot blog post and a vague link in another.

In fact, Buck’s stance on abortion has been covered by only one major news outlet in Colorado, and that is, the Associated Press, according to Nexis search, though you might have heard about his view on this issue via the local blogosphere or from a few national news outlets.

The Aug. 11 Associated Press piece ran in some smaller Colorado newspapers, or at least on their websites, but the AP story gave only passing treatment (12 words, to exact) to Buck’s abortion position, listing it among other positions cited by progressive organizations as “too crazy for Colorado.”

Denver local TV news apparently haven’t mentioned Buck’s abortion stance at all, according to an admittedly non-comprehensive web search.

Even if I missed something, and please let me know if I did, it’s fair to say that Colorado’s major news outlets have essentially ignored Buck’s position that women should not be allowed to choose to have an abortion if they become pregnant after being raped, even by family members.

That’s a serious omission, but Buck sprang up unexpectedly, and I have no doubt that Colorado’s major news outlets will get around to covering his position on abortion, now that he’s the official GOP nominee for U.S. Senate.

In questioning Buck on this issue, reporters should follow the lead of KHOW talk-radio host Craig Silverman, whose detailed questioning of Buck Aug 4 on this issue sets a high standard for journalists who interview Buck about abortion in the future.

Notice in the transcript below how Silverman leads Buck through a line of questioning that ends with the most important and relevant answers.

He first establishes that Buck believes if you allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest “you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father.”

Silverman then asks Buck the key question of whether his personal position on this issue would guide his actions if he became a U.S. Senator.

Buck responds that he would indeed favor a federal law banning abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

It’s worth taking a moment to read the transcript of Silverman’s interview with Buck below:

Craig: You’re saying even in the cases of rape or incest, you’re not for abortion?

Buck: That’s correct. You know, Craig, if you believe that life begins at conception, which I do, then with the exception of rape and incest, you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father. And even though I recognize that the terrible misery that that life was conceived under, it is still taking a life in my view, and that’s wrong.

Craig: Right. And I believe life begins at conception. I think that’s a matter of science. To me the question is, when does somebody become a human being and entitled to the same rights and protections that any human being in America deserves, or frankly around the world. To me, that’s the debate. How did you come to your position? Is it informed by your religion?

Buck: It’s my upbringing. It’s my faith. It’s my life experiences, the three things that have brought me to that position.

Craig: And have you always been there, or is this something that you’ve evolved to.

Buck: No, I think it’s something I’ve evolved to. It’s something that I realized in my mid-twenties. I certainly as a teenager hadn’t thought through the positions. As I got out of school and was observing things and growing in my faith I came to that position.

Craig: And would it transfer into the legal world. You’re going to be a legislator if you’re voted into the United States Senate. Would you create a law that would prohibit abortion in the cases of rape or incest?

Buck: I would favor that position in law, yes.

Craig: -Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

Talk radio show does great job of illuminating Buck as a deep social conservative

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Talk radio can put you in the middle of a political worldview that’s completely foreign, with an intimacy and intensity that some people can’t stand. That’s understandable, but it’s also unfortunate because there’s a lot to be learned from radio talk shows.

My own world is almost completely void of social conservatives. So I like listening to them on talk shows. Not always, of course, but sometimes, especially if they have interesting guests.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that recently I’ve enjoyed listening to Jim Pfaff, who holds the social-conservative flag over at 560 KLZ.

So after Ken Buck won on Tuesday, and I abruptly had to stop writing about media lapses and triumphs relating to Scott McInnis, I turned to Pfaff’s radio show to find out more about how Buck operates in the social conservative world.

Talk radio generally is a great place to learn about candidates, and Pfaff’s show on Buck, which aired May 21, did not disappoint. In about an hour, Pfaff pretty much provided his listeners with everything they might want to know about Buck’s views on social-conservative issues.

In a year when Colorado Republicans started out generating Denver Post headlines like, “Colorado GOP campaigns on a single issue: the economy,” Pfaff boldly told Buck:”

Pfaff: “These social issues, like marriage, these are critical issues. It has been one of the great weaknesses of the Republican Party not to deal with these critical issues.”

Buck: “I agree with you that I think it has been a weakness of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, and I think it’s time that we look at the people we are sending back to Washington DC and making sure those people are sticking by the values they espouse on the campaign trail,” Buck responded.

A host like Pfaff doesn’t just ask about Buck’s position on Roe V. Wade. He goes beyond it, asking Buck: “Let’s say we overturn Roe V. Wade. What should we do to address the issue of abortion nationally, if anything?”

Buck responded: “I think it is a federal issue. You know, you look at the founding documents, and one of them is the Declaration of Independence. And it clearly states that among our inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And life to me means life, and life begins at conception. So we need to honor that in how we deal with the federal government. Others would insist these are issues for the state legislatures and they certainly would have a role in that but I think the federal government has to guarantee life.”

Asked by Pfaff about the Supreme Court, Buck said:

“I think those Supreme Court Justices really need to be scrutinized. They’ve got to have a record, and we’ve got to probe to make sure we know exactly what they are going to act like on the Supreme Court. I am a strict constructionist, and I believe strongly that we need to make sure Supreme Court justices and other judges are not legislating from the bench.”

If you’re like me, you might not even think about where a candidate stands on religious freedom. So you might learn something completely unexpected when Pfaff asks Buck about this, and Buck says he questions the application of “separation of church and state” and argues for a vague “coexistence between government and religion.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Pfaff establishes that Buck opposes same-sex marriage and “would certainly be in favor” of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, if required, to ensure that states like Colorado don’t have to “acknowledge” gay marriages from other states, like perhaps Massachusetts.

So in less than an hour, in one obscure interview, you get mostly up to speed on Buck’s positions on social issues. Every one of Buck’s answers apparently satisfied Pfaff, which tells you, if you’re a Pfaff listener, that Buck is a five-star social conservative. This comports with Buck’s nine-out-of-ten rating by the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado, which claims Buck supports the “public posting of the ten commandments” but he lost points by not answering the question of whether he supports adoption by gay couples.

Along with gay adoption, I found a few items Pfaff didn’t cover. These were Buck’s support of the Personhood Amendment, his opposition to abortion without exceptions for rape and incest (which Buck announced later), and his view that, actually, “we could be much better off with a closer relationship between church and state” but without state-sponsored religion.  (Colorado Right to Life pointed to Buck’s primary win as the “biggest victory” for Personhood in Tuesday’s results.)

So here’s my advice. If you want to learn about our surprising new GOP candidates, and do it in a lazy and entertaining way, listen to a podcast or two.

Conservative talk-radio hosts respond to recent criticism

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Some say I’m beating my head against the church wall by critiquing conservative talk radio, no matter how reasonable my criticism is. But KOA’s Mike Rosen and KLZ’s Jim Pfaff, both righty radio hosts, recently responded on their air to issues raised in this blog.

With respect to Rosen, you may recall that I asked him and other talk-show hosts if they thought Scott McInnis should withdraw from the gubernatorial race as a result of his plagiarism, given that Rosen advocated firing Ward Churchill.

Rosen responded via email that Ward Churchill’s plagiarism was completely different than that of Scott McInnis. I asked him why he thought this, and he refused to answer.

But he addressed my question later on the air.

On his KOA show July 14, he said, first, that he didn’t want “to give a leftist fuel to quote me and make a bigger issue out of this.”

But, to Rosen’s credit, he went on to answer my question directly:

Ward Churchill was by profession a supposed scholar. And plagiarism coming from somebody who’s sole profession is based on much more honorable treatment of other people’s work is much more serious than the situation Scott McInnis found himself in, especially since Scott has said he hired someone, he hired a researcher, to provide the expertise in this area…. If I had had my druthers, I would have had the University of Colorado go after Ward Churchill and fire him not just for the plagiarism but for his abuse of academic freedom, for casting the University in a bad light based on his behavior and his comments not only in his classroom but at various speaking engagements. The University decided to play it safe and go after Churchill where they thought they could nail him for plagiarism and didn’t want to open that can of worms regarding the abuse of academic freedom. I would have been delighted to see them open up that can of worms regarding academic freedom- I would have fired Churchill for his general proslyletizing in his classroom and the outrageous statements he made while being connected to the University of Colorado and various other places around the country. So I don’t compare Scott McInnis to Ward Churchill.

So, there you have Rosen’s view on the matter, for which I thank him.

This month, I also asked Jim Pfaff, a conservative activist and talk-radio host on 560 KLZ, if he would please ask McInnis why he claimed to have a “zero rating” from NARAL during his years in Congress.

McInnis told Pfaff:

“My record is pro-life. When I was in Congress, I had zero rating by NARAL. And that’s very easy for people to look at.”

McInnis actually had an above-zero rating more often than not.

To his credit, Pfaff sort of asked McInnis about this, as I requested he do, Aug. 5.

Jim Pfaff: You mentioned that last time we were on the broadcast that you had a zero percent rating with NARAL- [Jason Salzman] pulled out NARAL’s numbers…. A little earlier, 1995 through 1999 you did not have a zero percent rating but, quite frankly, it went from 45 percent to 7 percent and zero from 2000 to 2004. I mean, you and I had talked about the fact that on the issue of protecting life that you had moved from a pro-choice position way back to a very solidly pro-life one. I mean it’s honest of Jason to point out that you did not have a zero rating those early years, but man you had four straight years when that changed. I’d love it if you could remember what you shared with me privately, because we did not talk about it on the broadcast, how important this is.

Scott McInnis: I’d be happy to do that. Well, it’s important. I struggled with the issue. When I was younger, I was never pro-choice, but I was inclined to go that way. I would sit down with pro-life people and I could never answer that question they had, Jim. And the question was, Scott, when does life begin? I thought how can life begin at any point other than conception? And finally I reached the conclusion, as a lot of people have, a lot of people struggle with this issue. Look, life begins at conception. If life begins at conception, how could you be pro-choice? I couldn’t. So, I changed my position.

Thanks to Pfaff, any of his show’s regular listeners who thought McInnis had a zero rating by NARAL during all his years in Congress now know that he did not.

Sunday scoop by Chieftain: McInnis wanted to extend his $150,000 fellowship

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that the Colorado Statesman previously published the fact that McInnis wanted a fellowship extension. The Statesman reported online July 12:

In 2006, when it came time to consider renewing McInnis’ fellowship, [Malik] Hasan said the former congressman’s job performance made the foundation’s decision an easy one.”The feeling was, if he did a good job, we would review it and extend it for another year or two,” Hasan said. “After two years, Scott called and asked if it would be extended. I said, ‘In good faith, I cannot recommend that to the foundation board.’”  The fellowship terminated after running out its original period, Hasan said.

Even if I got it wrong on the Chieftain’s scoop, and I apologize, you’ll still find your perfect Sunday reading material in the Pueblo Chieftain today.

It’s about the relationship between Scott McInnis and Malik Hasan that led to the Hasan Family Foundation giving McInnis a two-year $300,000 fellowship to write and speak about Colorado water issues.

You won’t find too much that’s earth-shattering in the piece, but one bit of information came out that deserved its own headline: McInnis wasn’t satisfied with his two-year $300,000 deal from the Hasan foundation. He wanted to extend it for a year, according to Hasan.

The Chieftain reported:

“He was interested in an extension” of the fellowship, Hasan said. “So he submitted this flood of articles that I believe Rolly Fischer helped with. At that point, we said, …Scott, you have got to be kidding.’ ”

Other than that news item, today’s Chieftain opens a window on a world, occupied by the Hasans and McInnis, that you know is out there but still you wonder if it really does exist.

I would have liked to have heard from others who knew both the Hasans and McInnis, and different views on the McInnis-Hasan relationship should have been included. But for what this piece is — basically an interview with Malik Hasan–it’s great reading.

Reporters should ask for proof that McInnis paid tax on water money

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Asked by the Colorado Independent July 22 why $112,500 of his income from the Hasan Family Foundation was paid to “Invest 2, LLC,” McInnis said, “There is no reason.”

Of the $300,000 he got for his water fellowship, $112,000 was paid by the foundation to “Invest 2, LLC,” not to McInnis directly.

Reporters should investigate 1) how this came to pass and 2) whether McInnis used the arrangment to avoid paying income tax or evade taxes completely.

Today, I’ll shed a little light on the first question.

Dr. Aliya Hasan, who’s a board member of the Hasan Family Foundation, told me last week that McInnis requested that the foundation secretary pay the $112,500 to Invest 2, LLC.

“He just randomly asked us one day to do it,” Hasan told me. “He asked our secretary.”

Hasan said she did not know why McInnis did this.

Reporters should ask McInnis why he requested that the Hasan Foundation  pay Invest 2, if, as McInnis told the Independent, there was “no reason” for it.

With respect to the questin of whether McInnis paid income tax on this money, as I wrote before, Invest 2, LLC, was not listed among McInnis’ assets in The Denver Post back in April, when the McInnis campaign allowed a Post reporter to review portions of McInnis’ tax returns starting in 2005. Companies with similar names were listed in the Post article as assets, but Invest 2, LLC, was not among them. The Colorado Independent also looked at the McInnis tax returns in April and at his congressional disclosures, and did not see Invest 2 as one of McInnis’ assets. (McInnis did not allow reporters to make copies of his tax filings, so the Independent couldn’t check his returns again as of last week.)

Invest 2, LLC, was dissolved in 2006, so if McInnis was an owner, the entity should have been listed on his tax returns. McInnis told the Independent he paid taxes on all the Hasan foundation money.

If McInnis was not an owner of Invest 2, then the big question is why he paid the Hasan money to owners of Invest 2. The owners of Invest 2 are not known, but Lori McInnis, Scott McInnis’ wife, is named on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website as the registered agent for the corporation.

The Post reported that other McInnis LLC’s, like “Invest 1,” were partnerships with his five siblings and his wife.

Reporters should ask McInnis for proof that Invest 2 was included on his income tax. And, if he was not an owner of the company, why did he pay others the Hasan money?

This is basic follow-up reporting on a major story that has yet to be done.