Archive for June, 2012

Conservative talk show hosts attacking Metro for offering reduced tuition to undocumented students

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Conservative talk radio hosts don’t have too many kind words for Metropolitan State College these days, after Metro’s decision last week to offer a reduced tuition rate to undocumented students.

Everyone knows this issue potentially alienates Hispanic voters in a swing state where Hispanics could decide the election.

Still, the conservatives on the radio, many of whom define themselves as partisan Republicans, are attacking Metro with abandon.

For example, KNUS Steve Kelley, who denounced Metro, had Rep. Cory Gardner on his morning show Friday, and he put the question to him. Gardner replied:

Gardner: I read that in the paper this morning, and of course I oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. I think it’s the wrong policy. It sends the wrong kind of message to people who are in the country illegally. And I think we got to work on border security before anything else. And I think Metro State has it backwards.

KNUS’ Kelley was open-minded about the issue compared to Devon Lentz on KFKA’s “AM Colorado” June 5.

Lentz is a KFKA host and the temporary chair of the Larimer County Republican Party.

She went beyond Metro, stating that Hispanic grade-school kids shouldn’t be allowed in public schools:

LENTZ: Are their parents being kicked out of this country yet? And besides the fact that my taxpayer dollars are educating them in the public schools, that their parents are not paying into the school system. Not okay with this one. Oh, so many levels…

I think I’m missing something here. Why are we continuing to reward illegals in America? Why? That’s what we are doing. We are continuing to reward them. So, yeah, I get the whole ‘they’re innocents, they’re minors’, they got their education. I don’t care if they’ve been here for 3 years and graduated from high school, or if they’ve been here 10 years. They’re on my dime in the school system. Their parents are not paying in. I’m not looking to backhand minors that didn’t have a choice in this country, but at what point does even the schools system learn that this 6th grader coming in and their parents are here illegally. Why are they being allowed in the school system to begin with?

Both Kelley and Lentz were mixed up on the facts related to this issue, and I’ll get to the fact-checking in a future post, but clearly the conservative talk radio world isn’t holding back.

You have to wonder whether Rep. Mike Coffman admires their passion.

Stapleton says he supports lawsuit to strike down FASTER but not asked how he’d pay for road upgrades

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

During an interview on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday, Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton came out in support of a lawsuit alleging that the 2009 FASTER law, which raised Colorado vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge upgrades, is unconstitutional.

Here’s the key exchange on the radio show:

WALKER STAPLETON: Well, you know, my friend Rich Sokel is at the tip of the spear, there. And I think it’s a great thing. And I hope they prevail because, you know, the FASTER tax was one of many taxes and fees that was passed without our input as voters in Colorado. And it was passed and given cover by a liberal activist Supreme Court. And so I hope that it gets some traction, because these fees need to be called what they are, and that’s tax increases.

Host: Absolutely. So I’m going to wish them luck on that and we’re going to do everything we can to support those guys and their efforts. Walker Stapleton, Colorado state—

STAPLETON: Thank you, guys! I appreciate you!

HOST: We appreciate you and everything you’re doing and you know you’ve got a friendly voice here, so use us whenever we can and we’ll help you fight this battle. That’s Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer.

Listen to Walker Stapleton on KLZ 6-7-12

It’s painful to hear a public official, who claims to be the standard bearer for fiscal responsibility, support striking down the FASTER law without explaining how he’d fund road and bridge repair in the state. And this is of course not the first time Republicans have exhibited this problem.

So, please, all you entertaining people over at KLZ, put this question to Stapleton when you have him back on Grassroots Radio Colorado: Does he 1) want to fix Colorado’s crumbling roads and bridges, and, if so 2) how does he propose to pay for it ($300 million in bonds issued and $400 million to be issued in 2017).

Reporters should mostly ignore birthers, except when one of them is a Senate Candidate who believes Obama should have been scratched from Georgia election ballot

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

If you’re a connoisseur of conspiracy theories, you know that consparicists take great pleasure in each other. They thrive in the closeness they achieve through their shared beliefs, especially because everyone else thinks they’re crazy.

That’s why talk radio is such a beautiful medium for conspiracists. The voices and emotion on talk radio, and the familiarity of the hosts and guests, create a sense of intimacy doesn’t exist on blogs or other media.

This is the kind of environment, as others have pointed out, that validates fringe beliefs, where the embattled can feel good about themselves.

As a case in point check out this discussion yesterday between KHOW’s Peter Boyles and John Sampson, a private investigator who’s also running for Colorado Senate District 25.

Sampson and Boyles were both selected by The Denver Post’s Curtis Hubbard as top birthers in Colorado. Sampson got the number five spot; Boyles hit pay dirt, snagging number one.

BOYLES: Well, so, congratulations on being number five. You certainly deserve more than that.

SAMPSON: Well, you know, I’ll leave you to be number one.

BOYLES: You know, Terry [Lakin] … I mean, every one of you guys… I mean, I’ve tried to make this point. Sampson, Hollister, Wolf, Doc Lakin … All you guys risked a hell of lot more than I ever did. I just get up at three o’clock in the morning and do a radio show. But Terry lost everything. Phil Wolf took an enormous amount of heat. Hollister took huge heat. You’ve taken heat. And, you know, and, you guys, well, set aside.

SAMPSON: Well, we swore an oath to defend the Constitution, Peter, and that’s where my core value is.

BOYLES: Long story short, I’m, I mean, like Sheik was saying, you know, we’re number one, but, truly, looking at you four guys, I don’t even belong on the list. But…

SAMPSON: Well, you’ve been carrying the water, also. I mean, you’ve been persistent covering this issue where others… where angel fear to tread… you know, it’s…

BOYLES: It’s “Fools rush in.” [laughing]

SAMPSON: Yeah. Fools rush in.

See what I mean by embattled people feeling good about themselves? This is what talk radio does best.

The birthers are on the run (witness Rep. Mike Coffman), but there’s obviously a different reality on Peter Boyles’ radio show.

But Sampson is candidate for public office, and so media types should pull out some of the things he’s saying, extract them from the false reality of talk radio, and subject them to rationality.

In a previous radio interview, Sampson said, “I have not and do not have sufficient evidence that would warrant me to make a statement as to whether or not he is eligible or not eligible.”

But yesterday Sampson said on the radio, straight up, that he thought a George judge should have found President Obama ineligible to appear on the November ballot in Georgia. Sampson said that because the President of the United States did not make a personal appearance to defend himself against lunacy, Obama’s name should have been scratched from the ballot.

Discussing the Georgia case yesterday (And you can find a summary of it here, including a link to Sampson’s testimony at the trail.), Sampson had this exchange with Boyles:

SAMPSON: And from what I had been told, the judge was indicating clearly, unequivocally, that he was going to issue a default judgment–

BOYLES: Yes, against–

SAMPSON: Against Mr. Obama.


SAMPSON: Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.

Sampson said some other strange things on the show that merit scrutiny.

In a discussion of how Obama could have been issued a Social Security number that belonged to a Connecticut resident, which is what Sampson believes, Sampson, with no hint of humor in his voice, threw out this “rampant speculation:”

SAMPSON: You know, there’s been some rampant speculation that Bill Ayers and his wife, given their prior affiliation with the Weather Underground knew very well how to obtain counterfeit or false documents.

Sampson also believes there’s convincing evidence, even though he says we don’t know for sure, that Obama’s Selective Service records have been falsified:

SAMPSON: Okay. However, the Selective Service record that also has that Social Security Number of 042-68-4425 was purportedly filed by Mr. Obama in 1980. But then again, you know, Zullo has very convincingly shown me, and has shown a bunch of people either in presentations or behind closed doors how he recreated that postal cancellation stamp, and there are problems with it. But, you know, we don’t know. We simply don’t know. And that’s where it’s a little problematic. At some point, hopefully, the truth is going to come out, and we’ll see what happens.

As you can imagine, there’s much more where this came from. And if you like conspiracy theories or not, you should listen to it, especially if you happen to be a reporter and it’s your job to let the public know about Colorado Senate candidates.

If someone says they’re flattered to be accused of violating IRS rules, a reporter should explain the accusation

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The right-leaning Colorado Observer reported last week that Jessica Peck was “outraged, stunned–and strangely flattered” when her organization was named in a recent Colorado Ethics Watch complaint to the IRS.

The Observer piece didn’t explain why Peck was “outraged and stunned,” but it did say that Peck was flattered because her organization is considered important and powerful enough to be taken seriously by Colorado Ethics Watch.

If I’m a reporter, and someone tells me they’re flattered to be accused of violating IRS rules, I’d present an itsy bitsy bit of detail about the alleged violations.

But the Observer’s reporter, Valerie Richardson, didn’t offer any information about the substance of Colorado Ethics Watch’s complaint against Peck’s organization, the Open Government Institute.

Richardson deep-sixed the details and wrote:

Whatever the merits of the complaint, Peck’s biggest crime may have been her Republican registration, according to CEW’s legion of conservative critics.

I’m glad to know what the legion of conservative critics think, but why not present more information about this case, since it frames the entire Observer story about Colorado Ethics Watch?

“I seriously pondered doing that,” Richardson told me. “But the story was getting too long, and I thought, at this point, that’s a separate story. One of the things I am going to do next is write a story about the details of that complaint. It was already getting so long that I was afraid no one would read it.”

I’ll provide a few details here, to fill in the gap until Richardson writes what I hope will be a longer analysis.

Colorado Ethics Watch wrote a letter to the IRS after posted a video on its website showing Peck, the Open Government Institute’s Executive Director, stating:

“Congressman Coffman, we’re working on some things that may, in a very non-partisan way, benefit you in your endeavors in November, so I’ll talk a little about that. So, I come here as a partisan Republican…”

On its website, Colorado Ethics Watch writes that this “can be interpreted as stating that OGI [which bills itelf as nonpartisan] has already taken specific actions to ‘benefit’ U.S. Rep. Coffman’s ‘endeavors’ in November, i.e. his reelection. Ms. Peck’s remarks also allude to future activities that will be conducted by OGI between now and Rep. Coffman’s November election.”

In its complaint to the IRS, Colorado Ethics Watch wrote:

As set forth more fully below, it appears that this organization is currently involved in activities, and planning for future actions, which constitute political campaign intervention in violation of federal tax law governing 501(c)(3) organizations. Accordingly, Ethics Watch requests that the IRS closely examine the activities of OGI before determining of OGI’s pending application for 501(c)(3) status.

This is a serious accusation, raising questions about the legitimacy of OGI’s claim of nonpartisanship and non-profit status, allowing for tax-deductible donations.

In a telephone interview, Peck dismissed the charge, saying:

“We have not heard back from the IRS. We believe we’re in complete compliance with laws governing nonprofits. Anyone can file a complaint.”

She added that Colorado Ethics Watch “does a lot of great work.” But not this time, she said.

One of the critics of Colorado Ethics Watch, cited in the Observer article, was Mario Nicolais, an attorney at the Hackstaff Law Group.

I asked him if he’d advise a client to say the things Peck said about Coffman.

“The Open Government Institute was a client of mine, prior to any of this happening, so I’m not going to be able to comment,” Nicolais told me, adding that he represented them for “about a month when they first were opening up.”

“Anyone who’s been a client, I’m not going to comment without their direction.”

In Richardson’s upcoming article about Colorado Ethics Watch’s complaint, I hope she asks the aforementioned “legion of conservative critics” the same question I asked Nicolais, as she lays out more detail about the IRS complaint against the Open Government Institute.

Boyles, who rejects “birther” label, to interview Hubbard’s top Colorado birthers tomorrow

Monday, June 4th, 2012

In a promo for his show tomorrow morning, Peter Boyles is promising to interview the four men identified by Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard as “Colorado’s 5 Most Prominent and Passionate Birthers.”

The “passionate” part is a direct reference to Rep. Mike Coffman, who told KHOW last week that, with respect to birthers: “God bless people who do that. I understand their passion.”

So, if you disregard Hubbard’s advice to “pay attention to [Colorado’s top 5 birthers] at your peril,” you might tune to the KHOW birther fest tommow.

It will feature John Sampson (who believes Obama is using the Social Security number given to another citizen in 1977); Col. Greg Hollister (who may have broken the law in pursuit of Obama’s Social Security number); Phil Wolf (who’s errected a series of anti-Obama billboards at his car dealership in Wheat Ridge), and Terry Lakin (who refused Army deployment due to his birther beliefs).

And, of course, you’ll also get to hear Hubbard’s number one Colorado birther, Peter Boyles himself.

If you listened to Boyles today, you know he’s been joking, in between his jabs at Hubbard, Obama, and others, about how much he loves being “number one.”

Does this mean he’s okay with being called a “birther?”

“Birther is a term that was given, not accepted,” he told me. “In other words, the term came from guys like you. I never called myself a birther.”

Boyles made no mention of Coffman being on tomorrow’s show, but that’s not surprising because Boyles has been calling him a “weenie” for apologizing for his birther comments about Obama.

Wolf, of birther billboard fame, had a similar response when asked if he calls himself a birther. “Of course not,” he said. “I’m a thinker. I ask questions. Maybe we haven’t been dumbed down like so many people have been. I question a lot of things. If there’s not an answer, the question lingers.”

Asked if he regrets Bain, Romney cites bankruptcies, but reporters should ask if he has other regrets

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I listened again to Tuesday’s interview with Mitt Romney on KOA radio, and I thought co-host April Zesbaugh asked Romney a good question, but Romney’s answer was shallow and deserves scrutiny by reporters at the national level.

Zesbaugh asked Romney if he had any regrets about his work at Bain Capital.

Romney replied that he regretted “all the things that didn’t work out,” and the “decisions that weren’t right.”

Then Romney went on to say that he’d just seen a letter from Bain stating that in 80 percent of cases in which the firm made investments, over 28 years, “the businesses grew.”

“Well, that’s pretty good,” Romney said.

But in five percent of the cases, he continued, businesses went bankrupt.

“Well, that’s not so good,” Romney said chuckling.

“You’d like not to ever have that happen,” he said.

Does Romney have any regrets about how Bain treated the 80 percent that did not go bankrupt?

Does Romney regret how the workers and others associated with those companies were treated, even if they did not go belly up in the end?

I’m guessing any decent person would look back at some of the business tactics that were used by outfits like Bain and have some regrets, but maybe I’m wrong.

I mean, I’m just a blogger, and bloggers aren’t known for their ability to judge business ethics, which doesn’t stop them from doing it, of course.

In any case, it’s a question that reporters should put to Romney. Does he only regret the businesses that went bankrupt? What other aspects of the Bain business model, if any, does he regret?

Co-host Zesbaugh: Well, let’s switch gears and talk about the economy. It’s only May and we can’t stop hearing about your time at Bain Capital. I’d like to know what you learned that can help you turn the economy around, at Bain. And what you may regret, if anything, from your time there.

Romney: Well, I can tell you that if you’ve never spent a day in business, you don’t understand how government makes business have a difficult time. Whether it’s a small business or a big business, government can get in your way. I spoke with a banker today that is in northwest Colorado. He said that he spends about sixty percent of his time trying to deal with regulators and government intruders as opposed to working with customers and making loans. So, I understand the impact of regulations. Some regulation is helpful. Some is not. I understand which is which. I understand the impact of Obamacare on small businesses, and why it is that small businesses are not looking to hire people right now, in part because of the peril of Obamacare and the extraordinary increase in health insurance costs that folks are seeing. I understand also, when the president puts in place a series of folks in the National Labor Relations Board who want to force unions on businesses where the employees don’t want them – I understand what that will do to jobs in this country. You see, having started a business and having run a business, I understand how policy in Washington affects whether or not businesses grow in America or decide to either not invest at all or go elsewhere to invest. And so I want to use my experience to make America the most attractive place in the world for small business and other businesses, so we have jobs growing again and rising incomes again. It’s what we deserve.

Zesbaugh: Any regrets?

Romney: Oh, I’m…. all the things that didn’t work out. All the… There’s no question but that the benefit of hindsight is such that if you could go back and erase the decisions that weren’t right, that ended up not working out, you’d want to do that. I just saw a letter from the folks at my old firm Bain Capital, now twenty-eight years of business existence. They put out a statement that said in eighty percent of the cases where they made investments, the businesses grew. Well, that’s pretty good. But in five percent, businesses went bankrupt. Well, that’s not so good. [chuckles] You’d like not to ever have that happen.

Mm-hmm. [ …] The Obama administration, Obama for America, sent out a press release yesterday, and I don’t know if you’ve seen this but I’ll read “in both the public and the private sectors Romney would allow his energy policies to be shaped behind closed doors by billionaire donors benefitting from the same massive Big Oil tax breaks Romney has pledged to protect.” More than just specifically to that statement, are you still fighting this battle of image that you are just a rich, wealthy guy who… the next step on your resume, you want to be the leader of the free world.