Archive for November, 2015

Klingenschmitt says Gardner is doing the “Bob and Weave Dance”

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt likes to come out swinging at his various targets, including, now, his Republican opponent for state senate, Rep. Bob Gardner.

Showing off his media skills, Klingenschmitt posted an entertaining video today, labeling Gardner a “liberal” and featuring Gardner doing the “Bob and Weave Dance.”

Klingenschmitt: My opponent for the race for State Senate District 12, Bob Gardner, has just started performing this Bob and Weave Dance to perfection! Here’s a quick example. If you’re following this Colorado Springs election, you know we’re both Republicans. And I’m actually conservative and Bob Gardner is a liberal who pretends to be a conservative.

Klingenschmitt’s undercover video features Gardner saying he supports the principles of liberty, but Chaps points to the Principle of Liberty website, which lists Gardner as receiving an F in 2013 2014.

“Don’t believe ratings systems that are odd, distorted,” Gardner says in Chaps’ video.

Chaps calls that the Bob and Weave Dance–and he wants an apology from Gardner for allegedly calling Chaps a liar.

He concludes with, “Unlike you, Mr. Bob-and-Weave Gardner, I don’t dance.” (But we know Chaps does throw poop.)

County Commissioner again accuses Obama of promoting charter schools with ties to Turkish cleric

Friday, November 13th, 2015

A Colorado Springs county commissioner, who’s considering entering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, is again alleging that President Obama backed a national education program, in part, as a way to establish U.S. charter schools linked to a Turkish Islamic cleric.

“One of the reasons that President Obama was actually looking at and amenable and actually kind of agreeable to, if you will, Common Core was, that would be a way to influence and infiltrate and open up charter schools to able to have the Fethullah Gulen charter schools, which were bringing teachers over from Turkey,” said El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton Monday on KLZ 560-AM.

Littleton did not cite her evidence for this, but it reflects what she said at a conservative conference in March, as reported by Scott Keyes of ThinkProgress.  It’s not clear what Common Core, which is an education curriculum, has to do with establishing charter schools in the United States.

Followers of the reclusive Gulen, many with Turkish ties, have opened charter schools worldwide over the past decade, including over 100 in the U.S.  They focus on math and science, in keeping with Gulen’s notion that devout Muslims should not teach religion but science instead. “Studying physics, mathematics, and chemistry is worshipping God,” he sermonizes, according to a CBS investigation.

CBS discussed allegations that the Gulen schools are exploiting foreign-born teachers and the charter-school system for profit–and that the schools are secretly “promoting an Islamic agenda.”

CBS interviewed a teacher who claimed she was exploited, but CBS couldn’t confirm these accusations regarding Islam, reporting that “we looked into this and Islam is not taught at all.”

But Littleton implies that religious education is taking place at a Colorado charter school, which she allegedly visited, with ties to Gulen.

Littleton: “When I went in, it was apparent to me that the some of the pictures and things had been taken off in the walls. And they practiced, you know, some of the Muslim practices that are taught in the Koran, is what I observed when I was there.”

In March, Littleton told ThinkProgress that these charter schools teach students to “hate Americans.” This may or may not connect with her belief, expressed at a Alliance Defending Freedom Conference in July in Colorado Springs, that churches should prepare to “respond biblically” to disasters like “martial law.”  Anyway, when I hear back from Littleton, I’ll ask her about this, too.

Already in the race for the GOP nomination to take on Democrat Michael Bennet are state Sen. Tim Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Aurora city counilman Ryan Frazier, former Parker mayor Greg Lopez, and El Paso County conservative Charles Ehler.

Three Republicans, including Littleton, are considering the race. Talk-radio host Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run. And Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race.

State Sen. Ray Scott is rumored to be a likely candidate. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has stated that two or three other candidates are considering the race.

Arapahoe County DA Charles Brauchler, Rep. Mike Coffman, and State Sen. EllenRoberts all considered running for the GOP nomination, but have withdrawn.

Here’s Littleton discussing Obama and education on KLZ Monday:

Death of Health News Colorado shows vulnerabilities of nonprofit journalism

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

After failing to find enough foundation money to save her nonprofit news organization, Health News Colorado, Diane Carman concluded that if she’d switched directions and begun practicing advocacy journalism, instead of continuing the independent reporting her project prided itself on, she could likely have raised enough money to keep going.

Instead, Health News Colorado folded last month, after  five years of taking shots from both the left and right. But it was praised by the Columbia Journalism Review and others for its detailed reporting, often covering major health-policy developments that were completely overlooked by other Colorado news outlets.

“You step on everybody’s toes when you are an objective journalism organization,” said Carman, who was editor and founder of Health News Colorado. “Everybody got burned a little bit at some point, because we took the role of watchdog seriously. So, when you do that, it makes it really easy for people to say, ‘I’m not so sure we have the money for that this year.’ I never got the impression we were being censored. There was never an impression of that. But I do feel that if we had been willing to cross over into the advocacy world, that we would still be alive.”

The beginning of the end for Health News Colorado came about a year and a half ago, when the Colorado Health Foundation, which covered 50 percent of Health News’ operating budget, told Carman to expect to be cut loose in September of 2015, according to Carman.

Initially, it looked like things might work out, because Kaiser Health News, a national organization that funds local reporting on health issues, appeared serious about absorbing Colorado Health News, if it could show community commitment by securing two years of local funding in advance of Kaiser taking over.

Carman jumped into fundraising.

“We got support in small amounts from a whole lot of new funders, but two of our biggest funders, the Piton Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation, said they wouldn’t continue to support us. They both were moving in new directions and nonprofit journalism was not on their priority list anymore.”

So Carman started looking for corporate donations, and believe it or not, after a summer of knocking on doors, she’d secured close to two years’ worth of funding, she said.

But then a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who’d at first supported the corporate approach, delivered the crushing news that his board of directors was not comfortable with corporate funding for Health News Colorado. Only nonprofit foundations and donations were good enough. (This, from a foundation named Kaiser?)

“After really pouring it on for four months this summer, I just couldn’t come up with the dough,” said Carman. “So we shut it down.”

“It was a disappointment, because after five years, we had a solid readership,” said Carman, best known for 18 years as an editor and columnist at The Denver Post. “We had one story in July that got over a half million hits. We were routinely getting 20,000 or 25,000 hits on stories. We’d finally crossed into that area that nonprofit journalism wants to be in, where you have a strong following and people know where you are. It was kind of pathetic that when we were beginning to get some real traction, we couldn’t get the money to continue.”

If you follow health care coverage in Colorado, you can’t help but wonder whether Health News Colorado’s reporting, including its stories highlighting problems with Colorado’s health exchange, might have pissed off the Colorado Health Foundation and moved it to dump the nonprofit news outfit from its portfolio.

Carman has nothing but good things to say about the Colorado Health Foundation’s multi-year support, and she believes they just moved in a different direction, as foundations are known to do. A few calls I made confirm this.

Laura Frank, President and General Manager of News for Rocky Mountain PBS, told me that a three-year Colorado Health Foundation grant her PBS nonprofit journalism project expired in July and was not renewed, due to the foundation’s changed priorities.

“Foundations have what I call FADD, Foundation Attention Deficit Disorder,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of EdNews Colorado and Chalkbeat, two nonprofit news sites. “Foundations are constantly changing their strategic priorities. It’s a never-ending process.”

Gottlieb argues that nonprofit journalism entities, like Chalkbeat, should receive sustained funding and be seen as a “cultural benefit” like a museum. “But foundations don’t see it that way and move on,” says Gottlieb.

Locally, both the Piton Foundation and Daniels Fund have recently stopped funding journalism, he says.

“To sustain local journalism, we have to continually find new funders,” he says. “We need to have many funders instead of relying on just one.”

Frank, who’s on the board of the Institute for Nonprofit News, agrees. And she shares Carman’s view that advocacy journalism is easier to fund.

“In general, finding funding for fact-based, independent journalism is more difficult than for advocacy journalism,” says Frank. “But our [Institute for Nonprofit News] members don’t do advocacy journalism. They’re more likely to get funding from smaller donors, people who give $100 to $200 a year, and that takes time to grow. And it’s difficult for a small organization.”

Frank’s I-News is associated with Rocky Mountain PBS, so it’s easier for her “backfill” the loss of grants  with membership funding, she says.

But that’s not a luxury Health News Colorado had.

Carman, who’s looking for an organization to house Health News Colorado’s regularly-searched archives, has a few ideas on how her news site might have survived, had things been structured differently.

First, Colorado Health News was part of the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, which was a key player in helping launch the project. But there were problems with this situation.

“As an employee of the University, I couldn’t just go out and raise money anywhere I could find it within the foundation world,” said Carman. “You don’t want someone who’s raising money for Health News Colorado to get the only grant from some big foundation and be getting a $50,ooo grant for a year and that precludes the university from getting a $2 million grant for the medical school. So you have to go through the process to decide who’s going to get what money in which cycle. And we were such a small operation that we really couldn’t wait two years.”

Carman describes this as a “very reasonable and logical University policy,” but it didn’t help her sustain the news organization.

She said news sites can maintain their editorial independence, as hers did, and “survive and thrive” as part of universities, but some do training programs for journalism students or play other roles that give them an ongoing base of financial support from the university—which Colorado Health News never got from CU Denver, outside of some office space, administrative support, and liability insurance. But no operating funds.

The association with the School of Public Affairs limited fundraising in other ways. “For all the obvious and good reasons, the university has strict policies about how you bring in money for projects,” said Carman. “So we were never in a position to solicit sponsorships like public radio does.”  Even the development of a job board wouldn’t fly, she said.

Carman points out that journalism entities similar to Health News Colorado more often than not “live on the edge.” So it’s hard to say in hindsight what would have worked for sure.

It’s easier to see what will be lost.

Carman says, and it makes total sense given the state of Colorado journalism, that Health News Colorado reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon was the only reporter to cover virtually every meeting of Connect for Colorado, the Colorado healthcare exchange.

“She studied that stuff,” Carman said of McCrimmon, who’s now doing public relations work. “It’s complex. She spent lot of time on it. You can’t pick it up by dropping in on every couple of months.”

It’s safe to say, in the coming years with Colorado Health News gone and funds flowing to advocacy journalism, you’ll find a progressive journalist like me (or worse, a conservative one) at those obscure meetings–instead of a real journalist like Kerwin. If there’s any journalist there at all. And I can assure you, we won’t be better off.

McInnis, who’s open to another statewide run, isn’t thrilled with any of the current GOP senate candidates

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Former Congressman Scott McInnis told KNUS radio host Craig Silverman Saturday that he’s taking Spanish lessons and hasn’t ruled out a run for statewide office, despite the spectacular crash of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign after his “musings on water” articles proved to be plagiarized.

But he doesn’t see an opening for himself in the current Republican primary race to take on Democrat Michael Bennet, as he said the “alignment” isn’t right today.

But McInnis, who’s now a Mesa County Commissioner, isn’t excited about any of the current GOP Senate candidates, saying he’dlike to see Rep. Scott Tipton run. And he said failed 2008 Senate candidate Bob Schaffer would “win that race.”

McInnis gave no indication that his plagiarism scandal, which torpedoed his 2010 campaign, would hurt him in future statewide campaigns.

McInnis: As you know, following that BS, and that’s exactly what it was, I was caught totally off guard by those allegations. And to be  straight with you, before I ran for governor, we spent about $50,000 doing opposition research, and the opposition research was on me. And I wanted to know every hiccup somebody would bring up. Every vote we looked at. We looked at every possible thing. This never came up, because we never know about this. Well, after this broke, we didn’t have time to get ahead of it, Craig. ..those allegations that there was, not perjury, but–

Silverman: Plagiarism.

McInnis: Plagiarism. That shows you how much I was involved. But it worked. It was very effective. It destroyed our opportunity. …We suspected Hickenlooper would be their candidate and we ran consistently 12 points ahead of him.

He said the plagiarism accusation was based “false information,” pointing to his “complete exoneration” by the state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. He was cleared of dishonest lawyer behavior but not slimy political behavior, including throwing his elderly research assistant under the bus. That’s what cost him.

Lundberg may try to subpoena witnesses who declined to answer questions at today’s hearing

Monday, November 9th, 2015

UPDATE: An attorney from AG Coffman’s office decided at the last minute to attend the event, letting Lundberg know 45 minutes before he arrived. He told lawmakers that the AG’s office did not have jusisdiction to investigate. The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus tweeted that the legislature’s nonpartisan legislative legal services office also declined an invitation to attend. With witnesses from across the political spectrum refusing to participate in today’s “informational hearing” on alleged sales of fetal-tissue for research purposes, Sen. Kevin Lundberg may request authority to subpoena witnesses for legislative hearings next year.


With witnesses from across the political spectrum refusing to participate in today’s “informational hearing” on alleged sales of fetal-tissue for research purposes, Sen. Kevin Lundberg may request authority to subpoena witnesses for legislative hearings next year. – See more at:

“I can go to the Senate and seek permission to have that authority for any specific issue,” said Lundberg, who’s the Senate Republican Assistant Majority Leader, on KLZ 560-AM Thursday (at  18:45 below). “And this may rise to that occasion.”

“I have never seen subpoena powers granted to a [Colorado legislative] committee, but it’s within the rules,” said Lundberg on air, citing his position as chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, which would have jurisdiction on this matter.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado State University, Planned Parenthood, and the University of Colorado have refused to attend today’s 9 a.m. hearing at the state capitol to answer  questions from Lundberg and 20 other conservative state lawmakers, Lundberg told KLZ morning host Steve Curtis.

If they refuse to testify again next year, Lundberg said, he’ll consider seeking subpoena power from his Senate colleagues, who hold a majority.

“I haven’t ruled that out at all,” he told Curtis, adding that it will depend on what information is uncovered at today’s hearing. Lundberg believes, for example, that if fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood were used in scientific research at Colorado Universities, it would violate Colorado’s ban on indirect funding of abortion. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains maintains that it has no fetal-tissue donation program.

For background on CSU and CU’s fetal-tissue programs see here and here.

Witnesses who have agreed to answer questions today, including a representative of the anti-choice Alliance Defending Freedom, appear to share the conservative leanings of Lundberg and others on the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, which is conducting the informational hearing.

The Grand Junction Sentinel described the group as “made up of 21 of the most conservative Republican representatives and senators in the Colorado Legislature.”

“This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ dollars and recourses. (Planned Parenthood) does not have a fetal tissue donation program, and the basis of the (committee’s) entire study is in sham videos that have been debunked repeatedly here and nationally,” Cathy Alderman, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told the Grand Junction Sentinel last month.

“If we don’t answers at the hearing on Monday down at the Capitol, I’ll turn this information over the appropriate legislative committees of reference and see if they can sort it out,” Lundberg told KLZ.

Radio host still upset that GOP elitism was big reason Republicans made themselves irrelevent in the presidential nomination process

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

It’s been a couple months since Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House appeared on Craig Silverman’s radio show and said, in part, that it would be too unweildly to for Republicans to vote on the GOP presidential candidates at Colorado’s caucuses.

Silverman is still talking about House’s comment, arguing just yesterday on air that it would not be difficult to hold a straw poll at the caucuses. Silverman rightly maintains that without the presidential straw poll, which was nixed by an executive committee of state Republicans, Colorado is irrelevant in the national Republican nomination process.

Just because Silverman is saying the same thing repeatedly doesn’t really make me want to pay attention to it. He repeated himself for years about JonBenet Ramsey, and few cared. But in this case, I thought I’d head to the podcast archive and listen to what House actually factually told Silverman, whose show airs Saturday mornings on KNUS 710-AM.

It turns out that House said that holding a straw poll “inflates the number people who come [to the caucuses] by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.”

To be fair, House also argued that new GOP rules would bind Colorado Republicans to their straw poll selection, even if their preferred presidential candidate dropped out by the time the convention rolled around. And House didn’t want to risk that Colorado delegates to the convention would not be able to cast a vote.

But House said the logistics of running the caucuses with an increased number of participants was “one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.”

Silverman called that an “elitist game,” and he hasn’t let go of it, to his credit.

Here’s what House said on air Aug. 29:

House: When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience.  And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.  And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much.  So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.

And here is the full discussion on the topic:

HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN:  Well, I appreciate you coming on my show. The talk of the Colorado right now is, why don’t we get to participate in this exciting GOP presidential primary?

COLORADO GOP CHAIR, STEVE HOUSE: Well, we are going to participate.  I mean, if you were sitting in that executive committee meeting when we had that discussion, I mean – the executive committee is made up mostly of large and small county chairs, and a lot of liberty activist folks are on the committee, and people believe that by picking the right delegates and giving them the authority to represent Colorado at the convention, we’re still participating.  I don’t believe for a minute the Presidential candidates are not going to come out here and try to have impact on who those delegates are, and what they vote for.   I think if the rules hadn’t changed, I don’t think – well, there would still be a question, Craig. Because there’s a fair number of counties that deal with preference polls at caucus, and I think that’s the other thing that a lot of people don’t understand.  When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience.  And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.  And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much.  So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.

SILVERMAN:  But it seems like such an elitist game.  You talk about “the right delegates” being selected.  How do people in the public know who the right delegates are? It seems like it’s all going to be Republican insiders.

HOUSE:  You know, it’s not really the people in the public.  If you are willing to go to caucus, and you’re still willing to go to caucus, and you work through the process, ultimately it comes down to picking 37 –acutally, 34 delegates – three are already designated, but picking 34 delegates and 34 alternates at the state assembly —  that processes hasn’t changed at all.  So, if you go participate, and you start to figure out, you know, which delegates are to going to represent your interests, they in many cases will talk about who they represent from a presidential perspective that, in the end, the people who go there are very invested, very committed Republicans who want to see the right thing happen to the state, and for the nation, as opposed to – you know, what if you did a preference poll where you said, “Look, instead of doing it in a caucus, you did a preference poll across the entire state to decide who our delegates are.   Now you’re getting into the primary territory, and that’s where a lot of people are very passionate about caucus want those delegates to have the ability to pick the presidential candidate they want, and not be based on a straw poll in March, if they many things change between March and July, as they probably will.

SILVERMAN:  Right.   But why doesn’t Colorado have a primary? I think back to 1992, and my old Colorado College professor, Bob Loevy —  who is going to be a guest next week on my show — he decries the way that political parties select nominees.  It seems like a fixed process.  Now we’re learning the Democrats, with their superdelegates, Hillary Clinton kind of the has it in the bag, if she can stay out of jail.  But back in ’92, I remember when Paul Tsongas, Bill Clinton, Tom Harkin — they debated in Denver, Colorado. And even back then with the Republicans there was incumbent George Herbert Walker Bush being challenged by Pat Buchanan and people in Colorado got to vote on those things. Coloradans like to vote. They like elections.  How come you’re not giving it to them?

HOUSE:  Well, look, you talking about a primary process that did occur back in ’92, and I think, that’s a legislative issue.  I mean, that’s something where you’ve  got to get to the legislators and decide how you want to handle that.  Um, we really think that what will happen here is, the process is not any different than it was four years ago, now.  If we don’t do a binding straw poll,  it’s no different than it was four years ago. The delegates are selected the same way.  They go to the convention unbound, exactly like they were four years ago.   And there has been many, many people who defend that process very, very passionately.  In fact, I’ll tell you that all the feedback I’ve got – besides, you know, Chuck Todd and his stoner comment, and as far as I’m concerned, we’d be stoned if we were going to listen to Chuck Todd to begin with.  Um, you know, that whole thing – that whole process–

SILVERMAN:  You mean, sleepy-eyed Chuck Todd? That’s what Donald Trump calls him.  And, just to bypass the rest of this stuff, doesn’t this come down to Donald Trump?  Isn’t it true that the Republican establishment really disdains Donald Trump and is going to design every role to pose an obstacle to him becoming the Republican nominee?

HOUSE:  I haven’t heard Republican National Committee people say that, Craig, but, you know, look.  When you go back—

SILVERMAN:  But they feel it.

HOUSE:  They may very well feel it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very interested in hearing from Donald Trump as much as I am anybody else.  And I believe they will actively come to Colorado, not only for the debate on October 20, but throughout the process to try to get Colorado delegates and people who support those delegates, to go their way.  I think if the guy standing is there with 25% of the vote, you’ve got to take him seriously.  He’s got a double-digit lead.  I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t take every single candidate seriously.  I had somebody ask me the other day, “Are you doing this to prevent fringe candidates from getting delegates?” And I said, “I don’t consider any of our people to be fringe candidates, I don’t know where you come up with that process.”  So, the overwhelming response I’ve got has been that it’s better the way it is.  If the preference poll were not binding and our delegates could ultimately go and make decisions based on what was current at the time – and especially if the potential exists for a brokered convention, although it doesn’t happen often —   this is a very unique year. We will be in a lot more powerful position to influence what happens, and who the eventual nominee is, this way, than we would if we were bound to a preference poll five months before the convention

SILVERMAN:  Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado GOP, good enough to join us.

Why do Colorado Senate Republicans think it’s a good idea to attack Jeffco voters?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Control of the Colorado Senate swings in the balance next year, with the Democrats hoping to pick up one itsy bitsy state Senate seat and the Republicans clinging to a majority of one itsy bitsy Senate seat. And that seat is most likely in Jefferson County.

With this in mind, after last night’s uprising against conservatives in said Jefferson Country, you’d think the Republicans’ official Senate Facebook page would speak in a humble tone, with an eye on the not-so-far-away-longer-term.

Instead, the Colorado Senate GOP lashed out at the Jeffco electorate, which, did I mention, will be voting again in just 12 months (or, about 364 days).

Here’s what the Colorado Senate GOP Facebook page had to say, in a statement that deserved wide coverage:

Parents not willing to support school reform get what they vote for — reform-resistant status quo schools run according to union shop rules. If that’s good enough for their kids, so be it. It’s the students, not the parents, who will live with the consequences.

Do Colorado Senate Republicans hope to hold their Jeffco swing districts with this attack line? Do they think attacking the Jeffco parents is a winning strategy for 2016?  It’s a legitimate question for reporters to put to Senate Republicans, given what they said this morning on Facebook.