Radio host identifies conservative lawyer, with connections to Morse-recall campaign, only as an “election attorney”

UPDATED June 22 with a response from Jimmy Sengenberger and a correction that the organization I am Created Equal donated over $55,000 to Colorado-Springs consulting company Kennedy Enterprises, as opposed to at least $14,000 as previously reported, to gather signatures and perform other functions for the Morse recall campaign.


On KNUS yesterday morning, guest host Jimmy Sengenberger convened a panel so that listeners could, as Sengenberger put it, “learn exactly what’s going on” regarding the campaign to recall State Senate President John Morse.

How you learn “exactly what’s going on” from a one-sided panel is beyond me, but that’s standard fare for conservative talk radio.

But Sengenberger’s discussion went beyond misleading into grossly-manipulating territory due to the way he introduced one of the three panelists.

The panelists were Jennifer Kerns, identified as a “Spokeswoman for Recall Morse;” Jeff Hays, identified as “Chairman of El Paso Republican Party;” and Mario Nicolais, identified as an “election attorney” on the panel to give “legal insights.” Sengenberger later referred to Nicolais as an “election attorney” or an “election lawyer.”

What Sengenberger didn’t say was that Nicolais is a staff attorney for Scott Gessler’s former firm, the Hackstaff Law Group (formerly called Hackstaff Gessler), which is obviously a conservative outfit. Gessler’s office will be presiding at a hearing to determine the validity of a protest, filed by Morse backers, of the language used on the Morse-recall petitions.

What’s more, and you wouldn’t expect Sengenberger to know this, Nicolais’ name, along with the Hackstaff Law Group, appears on the Articles of Incorporation for, Inc., which donated over $55,000 to the Morse recall effort in in-kind contributions to Kennedy Enterprises to support a paid signature-gathering campaign and other activities. The fact that the signature gatherers were paid is often omitted on talk radio.

Sengenberger should inform KNUS listeners about Nicolais’ conservative affiliations, as well as the fact that Nicolais’ law firm (which is also Gessler’s former law firm) represents a major funder of the recall, and now Gessler’s office is presiding over the petition-protest hearing.

Sengenberger was very precise, and fair, in identifying the other guests on the show but, for some reason, he was incredibly vague about Nicolais.

I asked Sengenberger via email why he didn’t identify Nicolais more precisely.

“Regrettably, I was unaware that Hackstaff is the former law firm of Secretary of State Scott Gessler, so that particular point of emphasis wouldn’t have come to mind,” wrote Sengenberger. “As for not mentioning the law firm where Mario Nicolais is an attorney, this was simply an unintentional oversight on my part that is inconsistent with what I usually do when I have attorneys on. However, I don’t see how anyone listening wouldn’t be able to determine his political leanings based on the tone and tenor of the conversation, including his comments.”

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