Archive for September, 2013

Media omission: State GOP’s business relationship with State Chair’s law firm could raise internal ethics issues for CO GOP

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Reporters covering a press conference last Monday featuring GOP activists from Pueblo should have mentioned, at least as an aside, that the activists said GOP Chair Ryan Call’s own law firm was hired to do the GOP’s legal-defense work related to the Pueblo recall election.

Speaking to reporters, Pueblo Freedom and Rights founder Victor Head, and Tim Knight of Pueblo’s Basic Freedom Defense Fund, said they weren’t sure if the Colorado State GOP was paying their legal-defense bills for the recall campaign, but they told reporters that Call’s firm was doing legal-defense work for the GOP’s Pueblo recall campaign.

Reporter: Was some of that legal-defense money earmarked from Ryan Call’s own law firm?

Knight (@1430): Yes. As a matter of fact, that bill we’re discussing, if he did pay us, he’s paying his own law firm and he gets his own billable hours.

Watch the press conference here:

Last week I reported the media omission that Sarah Arnold, former El Paso Republican Party Secretary, accused state GOP Chair Ryan Call of using his own law firm for all the legal business of the State Republican Party.

Unfortunately, Call didn’t return my request for a comment, but the fact is that Call’s firm, Hale Westfall, was doing a lot of the Republican Party’s legal work before Call was elected chair.

Now that Call is in charge of the State Party, the continued use of Call’s law firm could present internal ethics issues for the Republican Party, just as corporate officers can run into ethics problems for directing corporate work to their personal business enterprises. But there’s no public ethics issue involved in the State GOP’s ongoing business relationship with Hale Westfall.

Here’s a partial transcript of last Monday’s press conference featuring comments by Head and Knight:

Reporter @12:50: How much did the [State GOP] actually give you all, in terms of the legal fees, for the District Court case?

Knight: That question remains to be seen. There was a bill that someone else had offered to pay. We’re not sure of this. We’ve been asking for weeks. It appears that the State GOP may have paid that bill in an attempt to buy into the recall, saying, ‘We did help. We paid your legal bill.’ But they know, and we know, that someone else had agreed to pay that legal bill.

Reporter: How much was it?

Knight: Just short of $40,000. That was not the whole legal bill but part of it.

Reporter: How much is unsettled right now?

Head: I reached out to the law firm this morning to ask what the standing of our bill was, and they can’t tell us.

Knight: They had to get permission from people to tell us.

Head: So we’re almost in the dark. There are lots of entities that have stepped forward know to help us to buy their way into our success. And it’s welcomed, I guess. Our bills will get paid. But that is not what was promised. That is not what happened when we were about to close. When we were short. We have a legal challenge, and we don’t have the money to pay it. The recalls are going to go down, unless someone comes forward and helps. A bunch of promises happened. Nothing came through. We did it with 10, 20 callers at a time.

Knight: Selling personal stuff to pay for it.

Head: So as of this moment, as of this morning, I have no idea. Our law firm will not give as an account of who was paid what.

Reporter: Was some of that legal-defense money earmarked from Ryan Call’s own law firm?

Knight (@1430): Yes. As a matter of fact, that bill we’re discussing, if he did pay us, he’s paying his own law firm and he gets his own billable hours.

Media omission: radio show airs new accusations against Colorado State Republican Chair

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Correction: Also, an earlier version of this blog post stated that Debbie “Feeley” is on the list of people who are most detrimental to the Republican Party of Colorado. It is actually Debbie Healy, according to Sarah Arnold, who also told me she was not present at the GOP executive meeting last Friday, where the list was allegedly discussed but spoke directly to people who were there. Still waiting to hear from Ryan Call.


Serious accusations have been condensing in the air at KLZ radio this week and dropping on the head of Colorado Republican Party Chair Ryan Call.

On Monday, for example on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, former El Paso Republican Party Secretary Sarah Arnold said: “Ryan Call’s law firm is the only law firm that’s allowed to be used by the Republican State Party,  while he’s drawing a salary from that law firm and while he’s still making a huge salary off of the backs of grassroots people who continue to contribute to the party.”

Arnold, who’s currently writing an election-strategy book called In the Trenches, also said she spoke with fellow Republicans  who were present at an executive committee meeting of the state GOP last Friday where Call “put out” a list of the “six most detrimental people to the Republican Party in Colorado.”

Arnold said Call’s list, which she called a “Nixonian hit list,”  included Arnold, KLZ radio hosts Ken Clark and Jason Worley, Clear the Bench’s Matt Arnold, Rich Bratten of Principles ofLiberty, Laura Bratten, and Debbie Healy. Arnold said people have asked if it’s possible to petition onto Call’s list. She added that it’s Call who’s the “number one” threat to the Republican Party in Colorado.

Call did not return my request for a comment on these accusations, but, KLZ guest host David K. Williams pointed out that Call was just re-elected, so he must have serious support within the State GOP.

Before Arnold was on Grassroots Radio Colorado, Victor Head, who’s the 28-year-old Pueblo plumber who founded Pueblo Freedom and Rights, and Tim Knight, Founder of Pueblo’s Basic Freedom Defense Fund, also aired complaints on KLZ about the Colorado Republican Party.

Call responded to some of these complaints in a Denver Post article Sunday and elsewhere, including in more detailed Colorado Statesman article today, but, to give you a full sense of the tone of the discussion, here’s a partial transcript of what the two GOP activists had to say on the radio.

KNIGHT:  When we had gotten through the signature phase and we were dead broke, we went in search of allies, and we asked to have a sit down with the state party chair.  And we asked for a little assistance on the legal. And, um, kind of, they never really got back to us.  A couple guys were selling things and – actually, a lot of guys were selling things, and we asked the good people of Colorado and elsewhere to help us get through that.  And, um, you know, we also found out through various means that the Republican party was trying to shut down the recalls, by calling various power players in the county GOPs and saying, “Look, you got to put a halt to this –slow this down.”  So, Victor and I both kind of ran into a brick wall there, when we thought we’d have some allies, and they didn’t come through.  As a matter of fact, they made it even harder for us.  So, yeah, it was a —  we wanted to make the– to get the record pretty straight today.  Victor probably has more to add to that.

GUEST CO-HOST DAVID K. WILLIAMS:  Yeah.  Victor, what was the rationale behind the state party not more actively assisting you?

HEAD:  You know, I’m not really sure what their thought was, other than that they didn’t approve of it, initially.  And so they were just upset that basically we sprung this as ad as ‘we, the people’ without asking for their blessing first…we were down to about where the recalls were about ready to shut down, because we were out of money and needed some help.  And then to go to them and get snubbed, it wasn’t a good thing to work through. It was pretty hard.  And then, to further it, now that we are successful, they then start sending out emails and raising money off of our work, saying, “Look at everything we did!  Give us money.”  And meanwhile, we still had outstanding legal bills and things.  And we’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Not only did you not support us, you worked against us!  And now you’re making money off of our backs?”

WILLIAMS:  Victor, let me follow up on a question, there, for you.  In The Denver Post, Ryan Call […] said that – or according to the paper, said that once the recalls were certified, the GOP donated about $40,000 – the maximum it could contribute to recruit and help senators-elect Bernie Herpin and George Rivera of Pueblo.  What is he referring to there, and is that true?

HEAD:  Right.  They absolutely did. What they did is they donated money to the candidates themselves.  And in that, they didn’t  even donate actual money, that I’m aware of.  They donated ‘in-kind’ donations to the maximum amount, being phone banks, flyers, door hangers, that sort of thing.  And that’s great, but that didn’t help the recall effort.  As you guys were saying at the beginning of the show, the candidates are kind of a secondary to the recall and everything. 


HEAD:  It’s – you know, that’s expected.  Once the recall is there, they have to field a candidate.  That’s expected.  The point here was that we looked for some help, you know, as we were getting the signatures certified, we needed legal help.  And they didn’t think we had a chance.  You know, as a matter of fact, Ryan Call came down on election night, down to Pueblo to tell George Rivera how to graciously concede.  He wanted to help him on his concession speech.  Because he said, “You guys don’t have a chance down here.  We need to graciously concede, make sure there’s no sour grapes, and just move on!” 

WILLIAMS:  And he won by like 12 percentage points, didn’t he?

HEAD:  Yeah, then we blow it out by twelve percent!  And then, he tries to come down and give a big speech at our victory party!  And we shut him out!  We said, “NO!  Get the hell out of here!  Are you kidding me?  You were just here four hours ago telling us how we were going to lose!  You’re not going to take credit for this!”  So, it’s – you know, like you were saying, it’s probably politics as usual in the party.  But at this point, we have momentum.  We have some grassroots energy, and we’re going to demand some reform in this party and some reform in the leadership, or the party is going to die, I’m pretty sure.   I mean, they’re going to be wholly ineffective in 2014 and it’s just going to, you know —  it’s not going to help anybody.


Radio host should have pointed out that Buck himself, not the “liberal media,” hurt him most in 2010

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

During an interview on KNUS’ Jimmy Sengenberger Show Sat., GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck explained what he learned from his 2010 loss to Democrat Michael Bennet.

Buck told Sengenberger that, this time around, he won’t let the “liberal media” and “liberal candidates” distract him from the “issues that voters care about.” Listen to Buck on KNUS Sengenberger Show 9.21.13.

Judging from what Buck has said previously about his failed 2010 campaign, he was undoubtedly thinking about his views on social issues, like abortion, which were widely viewed as his downfall last time around.

But the ironic part is, if you think back to 2010, the most damaging single utterance Buck made, caught on video at a conservative gun gathering, showed a shocking exuberance by Buck himself to talk about his opposition to abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

Sengenberger surely remembers Buck’s rape-and-incest comments, which were later used in TV ads, and he should have pointed out that there was no liberal media or liberal candidates present at the event, tricking Buck into going way beyond what was needed to answer a simple question about abortion.

It was all Buck. It was authentic. And the emotional intensity of his answer in this video, unprovoked by anyone, arguably cost him a Senate seat. How does this square with what Buck is saying now about how it was the liberal media that undermined him?

Media omission: Buck says GOP strategy to shut down gov’t over Obamacare not Kamikazi or Kabuki but “legitimate”

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Ken Buck, who’s running for U.S. Senate, isn’t always so great at making up his mind about things (e.g., the personhood amendment).

So, even though Buck had tweeted his support for Sen. Ted Cruz’s crusade to shut down the government in order to stop Obamacare, it was wise for Fox31 Denver’s Eli Stokols to phone Buck to find out his latest thinking about the standoff in Washington.

Unfortunately, the Buck campaign did not return Fox31’s phone calls.

So I’ll fill in the media gap with Buck’s comments on the topic Sat. on KNUS radio’s debut of the Jimmy Sengenberger show (Sundays 5-8 p.m.).

In a move other talk-radio hosts should copy, Sengenberger injected some refreshing conflict into his conservative show by asking Buck to respond to righty Jonah Goldberg’s position against trying to shut down the government to stop Obamacare.

Sengenberger played Buck a Fox News interview with Goldberg about the passage of the House bill defunding Obamacare:

Interviewer from Fox:  Jonah, is this a Kamikazi mission?

Jonah Goldberg:  I don’t know if it’s a Kamikazi mission, there’s definitely  a lot of Kabuki theater in it. It’s like a long con, where you try to convince people to part with their money, and the trick is that the con artist is supposed to leave before they realize it’s a con. And what’s happened here is this whole ‘Defund Obamacare’ thing is, it has been exposed with the con artist still sort of left out there.  I mean, I like Ted Cruz.  I like Mike Lee, but these guys have been selling a plan that simply won’t work and they’ve been denouncing anyone who says it won’t work as prematurely surrendering, when in fact, all they were doing was just predicting where the facts would take them.

Then Sengenberger asked Buck to respond:

Sengenberger:  Is trying to defund Obamacare a Kamikazi mission or just Kabuki theater, or is there a real legitimate reason to put up that fight?

Buck: I think there’s legitimate reason, Jimmy, there. We cannot allow Obamacare to become one of the entitlements in this country. We’ve got to deal with healthcare. We’ve got to create a more open marketplace. We’ve got to give a patient centered healthcare system a chance. We’ve got to give consumers the information they need to make good choices. We’ve got to do better job at educating the public about their personal accountability for their health and give them incentives. And if Obamacare becomes a part of our cultural expectation, we have lost.  We can’t afford another huge entitlement like Obamacare.

Listen to Buck on KNUS Sengenberger Show 9.21.13

This is what Buck said on Saturday. So you’d assume he would have said the same thing if he’d returned Stokols’ call Tuesday. But, to make sure Buck’s thinking hasn’t changed over the past couple days, I’d suggest that Stokols stay after him.

Westword interview offers illuminating national perspective on abortion issues in state elections

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In a Westword interview published today, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue says Virginia’s November gubernatorial race is “something of a test case” to find out if the anti-choice positions of a candidate prove to be his downfall, just as abortion issues tipped the electoral scales against 2010 Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck here in Colorado.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports:

The Virginia governor’s race between abortion opponent Ken Cuccinelli and pro-choice hopeful Terry McAuliffe, which will come to a head in November 2013, a year before most of the other contests, is something of a test case, Hogue believes. Moreover, the strategy NARAL is employing there is the same one that helped elect Senator Bennet in Colorado — highlighting the anti-abortion positions of an opponent (in Bennet’s case, Ken Buck) whether or not they make them central to their campaign.

“Senator Bennet and politicians like him recognize that when the extreme positions of opponents are exposed and candidates are forced to speak to them and defend them in the public square, they lose,” Hogue maintains. “You hear politicians say, ‘I don’t want to talk about this. It’s a social issue, and people only want to hear about jobs and the economy.’ But that’s fundamentally untrue. Women’s economic livelihood is tied up with their ability to take charge of their family planning. That’s the real way Americans understand reproductive health and reproductive choice, and the extremists are very out of step with the common family experience in this country. We applaud Michael Bennet for his willingness to expose the extreme agenda of his opponent, and we think it’s a winning strategy we’d like to see replicated around the country.


“In Virginia, we’re seeing indications that voters who are otherwise on the fence or identify themselves as independents are being driven to not only go to the polls but vote for the pro-choice candidate when they see the extreme positions of the opponents extreme positions on choice — and Senator Bennet’s campaign provided great modeling on that,” she continues. “The protection of women to make personal decisions with their families and their doctors has not traditionally been a partisan issue. In Colorado, the laws were passed under a Republican governor [John Love, who signed a bill allowing abortion in the state circa 1967]. So, in these hyper-partisan times, we’re looking for states like Colorado to exemplify the fact that this is a family issue, not a Democratic or Republican issue, and that we expect our leaders to act accordingly.”

If you’ve been amazed at the starring role abortion issues have played on the political stage here is Colorado recently, you’ll enjoy the national perspective on the topic provided in Roberts’ piece today.

Post should have given recall spokeswoman the chance to respond to State GOP Chair Call

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In an interesting Spot Blog Post Sunday by The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee, Republican State Chairman Ryan Call defends himself against recent accusations from Republican activists that he did not support the recall campaigns of Democratic State Senators Angela Giron and John Morse.

Call told The Post that the State GOP, in fact, supported Republican recall candidates with cash, legal backing, get-out-the-vote activities, and other ways.

The Post also reported:

“In an e-mail exchange, Call offered to attend a news conference in support of the recalls, but he was turned down by a spokeswoman for the recall organizers.”

The spokeswoman for the recall organizers was Jennifer Kerns, and she was apparently not given the chance respond to Call’s allegation. Either that or she deferred to Victor Head, the Pueblo activist, who was quoted in the article, slamming Call.

But, in any case, on KLZ radio Friday afternoon, Kerns said:

Kerns: “This is my first time speaking out as the spokesperson for the recalls, and I’m doing it right here first on Grassroots Radio to say that the [Republican] Party blocked us every step of the way, whether it was phone calls into Pueblo from Ryan Call to suggest that they shut down those recalls, and they not aid and assist the guys from Pueblo Freedom and Rights, or if it was our chairman calling into Pueblo again the night of the elections telling George Rivera that he ought to prepare a gracious concession speech before the polls even closed….”

“I’ve often said to my colleagues, and I’ll say it first here publicly. As much as we fought John Morse and Angela Giron, the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and OFA, I have to say I actually fought my own Republican Party more, and I’m so sad and disgusted that I actually have to say that. But it’s the truth.” [BigMedia emphasis.]

Partial transcript  of comments by Jennifer Kerns and KLZ host Ken Clark on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, Friday, Sept. 20:

Jennifer Kerns: This is actually my first time publicly peaking out about this, in regards to the [Republican] Party. But the fact that Ken is taking his vacation time to call in about this. One person inspires another. Ken is exactly right. We just came off a very historic recall. Both of those recalls were driven by the grassroots and people who had never been involved in politics. And I have to say this. This is my first time speaking out as the spokesperson for the recalls, and I’m doing it right here first on Grassroots Radio to say that the Party blocked us every step of the way, whether it was phone calls into Pueblo from Ryan Call to suggest that they shut down those recalls, and they not aid and assist the guys from Pueblo Freedom and Rights, or if it was our chairman calling into Pueblo again the night of the elections telling George Rivera that he ought to prepare a gracious concession speech before the polls even closed…. I encourage everyone who’s listening to get involved or else there will be no Party…. I’ve often said to my colleagues, and I’ll say it first here publicly. As much as we fought John Morse and Angela Giron, the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and OFA, I have to say I actually fought my own Republican Party more, and I’m so sad and disgusted that I actually have to say that. But it’s the truth. We have to stay involved in the fight. And, again, it’s the Party that has to make peace with us…. They need us more than we need them, and we just proved it in two different races.

Ken Clark: We are all Andrew Breitbart. And we understand one thing that I don’t think the Republican Party understands at all: We are at war. And we will not back down. We understand what’s at stake in the United States of America. We understand what’s at stake in Colorado…. Republicans are supposed to stand for something. When I was a kid, they did. It was called the Reagan revolution. And Ronald Reagan was able to articulate his principles in such a manner that the entire country wanted to follow him. And follow him they did…. As a Republican, I stand for principles. What the Hell do you stand for? I really want to know. Do you stand for the Party itself? Is it the Party that you’re trying to protect. Is it your own power that you’re trying protect? Or is it principle? Is it fighting for the very life of this country? Because that is what is at stake, ladies and gentlemen, that is what is at stake.

More proof for talk-radio hosts that abortion issues are relevant at state and local level

Friday, September 20th, 2013

This goes out to all the talk-radio hosts who were trying to say, during the recall election, that abortion issues are irrelevant to state and local politicians.

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

Albuquerque city councilors narrowly agreed late Monday to send the proposed abortion ordinance to voters in a special election this fall.

The council voted 5-4 to schedule the election for Nov. 19, which is also the tentative date for a runoff election in city races, if one is needed.

The proposed ordinance would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for cases in which the woman’s life is in danger.

Anti-abortion activists collected over 12,000 signatures to force the Council to put the measure on the ballot. Whether the law holds up in court, it’s more proof that abortion politics can play out at all levels of government.

For the sake of civic order, journos should correct Gessler’s misinformation that you can vote anywhere you want

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told KNUS talk-radio host Steve Kelley yesterday: “Now, apparently, you don’t have to live in the district in order to be able to vote there, which I think is just absurd.”

Listen to Gessler on KNUS radio 9-18-13

Gessler’s comment to Kelley contradicts voting rules issued by Gessler’s own office in August. On the subject of residency requirements, Gessler’s rule (32.7.3.D) stated that voters must, in fact, reside in the district in which they vote.

Among other things, the rule stated that “intent to move, in and of itself, does not establish residence.”


This residency rule was part of a set of election guidelines that also included a measure, later thrown out by a judge, that would have made it harder for military families and students to vote.

Rather than just rescind the portion rejected by the courts, Gessler’s office struck all of the guidelines in the rule, including the portion on residency requirements. So the SOS’ residency guidelines are now off the books. Still, it’s the last word we’d gotten from Gessler’s office on the residency topic, and it contradicts what Gessler told Kelley yesterday.

And, re-focusing on the bigger picture, it’s Alice-and-Wonderland logic to assert that Colorado’s new election law allows you to vote anywhere you want in the entire state, regardless of where you live. And it’s Mad Hatter-like for Secretary of State to say this, especially when his office contradicted him a couple months ago.

In a conversation with The Colorado Independent’s Mike Littwin Tuesday, Gessler hinted that he knows deep down that you’re required to vote where you reside. Gessler seemed to praise Jon Caldara for “staying in El Paso” after he voted there as part of a media stunt that’s gotten Caldara in legal trouble. But as Littwin pointed out, Caldara has announced that he will continue to reside in Boulder.

But the day after he talked to Littwin, Gessler stepped up his rhetoric, saying on the radio if “you say you intend to live there then I guess that’s good enough.” Then he went into full attack mode on the election law, forgetting that it was promoted by a bipartisan group of county clerks from across the state:

Gessler: But it just goes to show that the pull behind this bill really didn’t care about fairness. They didn’t care about listening to any other opinions except their own. They didn’t care about anything except, in my view a ruthless partisan power play. And that’s what they did. And when they froze everyone out, anyone who might disagree with them, they froze them out and refused to even talk to them about it. It shows you they were up to something, and you see the result. Apparently, you don’t have to live in the district anymore to be able to vote there. And that’s absurd.

What’s really absurd would be if Gessler’s comments go uncorrected in Denver media circles.

Journalist sets good example by using Twitter to tell us who’s not talking to her

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The Denver Post’s Allison Sherry set a good example for her fellow journalists today by usng Twitter to tell us who isn’t talking to her.

Sherry tweeted: @RepMikeCoffman refuses to answer in person questions on the CR, says will only talk about funding federal govt ‘in writing’

It’s a great use of Twitter, in part because it allows the dwindling numbers of political journalists to know how they might be able to act collectively to get info from hiding politicians, who often choose to grant interviews to some reporters while ignoring others.

A public-minded reporter, lucky enough to have access to Coffman (or any bunkered pol), might see a tweet like Sherry’s and step up with questions. Reporters at different outlets are still competitors, for sure, but these days you see them taking more collective action for the greater good.

It’s obviously easier and easier for pubic officials to avoid journalists, as their ranks and audience declines. Tweeting the media-avoidance habits of politicians on a regular basis is a good response to a bad situation.

Why does Coffman think climate-change research is controlled by radical environmental orthodoxy

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Last month, Rep. Mike Coffman told long-time KOA talk show host Mike Rosen that a lot of scientists can’t get climate-change research grants unless they “submit” to the “orthodoxy of climate change by the radical environmentalists.”

Some media outlets quoted Coffman’s radio comments, but not a single journalist has reported asking Coffman to explain himself, even though global warming, even if you’re a skeptic, ranks at the top of the list of environmental issues of our time.

So, since Coffman won’t talk to me, I’m left to speculate about what he was talking about.

I found a handy breakdown of U.S. government funding for climate research.

The top granter is NASA. Does Rad Enviro orthodoxy prevail over there?

Next is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, followed by the National Science Foundation. Both aren’t known for harboring the radical environmental set.

But what percentage of the total funding for climate-change research comes from the feds anyway?

I asked Prof. John Reilly, who Co-directs the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change Center for Environmental Policy Research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and he estimated that over 90 percent comes from governments worldwide, with the U.S. government providing the most money.

He added: “The definition of ‘radical environmentalist’ will of course depend on one’s views and interpretation of the science.  Both environmental groups and private companies with a range of perspectives fund some research.”

So this opens up a serious line of questioning for Coffman. What is his definition of a radical environmentalist?

In a Twitter discussion of this topic, “AFPColorado” told me NASA may be be submitting to radical-enviro-global-warming orthodoxy because “it helps fatten budgets and supplants [its] abandoned original mission (manned space flight).” AFP Colorado offered me an article claiming that “climatism” is, as AFPColorado put it, an “orthodoxy-enforcing religion,” used to create alarmism and justify grants.

In his interview with Rosen, Coffman said he’d read “viable sources” backing up his view that radical environmental orthodoxy controls grant funding for climate change. Maybe Coffman was thinking about the article from AFPColorado? It’s titled “Science in the Public Square: Global Alarmism and Historical Perspectives” by Richard Lindzen.

I asked Prof. Reilly if he knew what sources Coffman might possibly be thinking of. He told me via email:

Reilly: I am not aware of “viable sources” that have  evaluated whether research grant applications that challenge the “orthodoxy of climate change” are more or less likely to be funded.  A great strength of the US research system is that there are many different sources of research funding. These programs award grants on the basis of peer review by scientists, and so the grant managers are relatively constrained by the results of the peer review.  In the US there is also an important tradition of industry and philanthropist funding of research.  The Program I run at MIT is funded in part by a large industrial consortia (the industrial sponsors are identified on our WEB site) and so that provides us with additional freedom to investigate the climate issue, unconstrained by any Federal funding bias, if that is the Congressman’s concern. Ultimately, whatever the source or potential bias of research funding, to ultimately have scientific credibility any research findings must find their way into the peer-reviewed literature.  Hence that is another check in the system.

It is the case that granting programs are very competitive.  Climate change is an area that has energized scientists, in part because of the intensity of the public debate, and so there are many scientists competing over a limited amount of funding. Such competition, just like in the market place, is a good thing but it means that many proposals rated excellent and very good don’t make the cut.  It is probably only human nature to look for larger reasons if one’s proposal fails.  For competitive grants from the NSF, for example, my guess is that the success rate is only 10% or less, and even for my Program at MIT I must confess probably no higher success rate than that. Human beings must one way or another make decisions throughout the research system and so there are no doubt imperfections.  However,  the US system of multiple competitive grant programs, private funding, peer review of grants, and peer review of research findings introduces many checks, balances, and funding opportunities, and so the system is not easily manipulated.

I provide you with Reilly’s entire response because you have to admire his effort to be fair and thoughtful about Coffman’s assertion, but I’ll re-quote his last seven words because I think they sum up his view “so the system is not easily manipulated.”

Coffman is saying that, in the case of global-warming grants, science is being manipulated, and not just in subtle way, but by extremists. He’s attacking science.

But the good thing is, science welcomes attacks, especially from real-life Congressman like Coffman, because they force scientists to justify their work.

Except Coffman isn’t explaining himself, and journalists aren’t forcing him to.

Who’s to blame for this? Radical environmentalists?