Archive for February, 2018

Despite his promise to answer “any question ever about what we do,” district attorney continues to conceal court documents explaining what his office does

Friday, February 9th, 2018

The Colorado Independent took a step yesterday toward winning its battle for the release of court documents illuminating why prosecutors messed up a death-penalty case in suburban Denver against Sir Mario Owens, who was found guilty in 2005 of killing two people.

Arapahoe-County-area prosecutors George Brauchler and his predecessor Carol Chambers wrongfully withheld evidence that might have helped Owens’ defense, according to a Colorado court ruling. But the documents explaining the screw-up were sealed.

The Independent asked a court to unseal the records, but a  judge said no, arguing that Owens would have been found guilty anyway, even if his defense had been given access to the records. Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court asked the judge to explain his legal reasoning for keeping the records sealed.

But here’s the interesting part, from a political perspective.

Not only are the prosecutorial-misconduct documents themselves sealed but so are documents from Brauchler’s office, filed in response to the Independent’s lawsuit, outlining his office’s arguments for keeping the documents sealed. 

That’s kind of jaw dropping for two reasons. First, Brauchler is running for the job of Colorado attorney general. And second, as Susan Greene, the Independent’s editor, wrote a post about the case, “Brauchler’s chief deputy wrote our lawyer, Steve Zansberg to say his office fears that the documents, if unsealed, would be used ‘to gratify private spite or – promote public scandal’ and ‘to serve as reservoirs of libelous statements for press consumption.'”

In other words, Brauchler’s office admits that he doesn’t want them released for political reasons.

So it’s no surprise that Brauchler, a Republican who dropped out of the race to be governor last year to pursue the attorney-general office, isn’t talking about why he wants to keep them sealed.

Yet, at the same time, he’s saying publicly that “I will answer any question ever about what we do.”

“Once you’ve announced you’re running for office, there are certain people who are going to view every decision you make as having been motivated by politics,” Brauchler told KNUS host (and Brauchler friend) Steffan Tubbs Feb. 6.  “Even this, someone sitting there right now, recording this, the Brauchler Haters for AG Group or whatever, and they are like, ‘He’s just talking about that.’ Look, this is just who I am. I’m the DA out here. I love the job that I do. It’s an awesome responsibility. And I will answer any question ever about what we do.” [Listen below.]

Any question ever? Why not tell us why you won’t release the documents? Brauchler’s office did not return an email seeking an answer to this question. (He’s stated that Owens received a fair trail.)

Undoubtedly, Brauchler, who’s known for being readily available to talk to reporters and others, may have legal reasons for keeping the Owens’ documents sealed.  But it looks as if politics is playing a big role, if you believe his deputy. But who knows without seeing the docs?

And regardless, as Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts told Greene, access to to such court documents is “only way Coloradans can know whether the system is working properly.”

At the end of the day, beyond one election, that’s what really matters here.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS Feb. 6:

Colorado lawmaker “likes” false Facebook meme claiming flu shot recipients are more likely to have learning disabilities

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

State Sen. Vicki Marble of Ft. Collins “liked” a recent Facebook meme last depicting a woman getting a shot along with the statement, “5x MORE LIKELY to be diagnosed with a LEARNING DISABILITY.”

The image on the post comes from a YouTube video on how to administer a “flu vaccine.”

But Marble says her Facebook “like” does not necessarily mean she agrees with the post.

There are remote dangers associated with getting a flu shot, which are far outweighed by the potential benefits, according to the overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion.

Yet, each year, Facebook and social media sites become sickened with falsehoods linking the flu vaccine to various maladies. Snopes, along with other credible sources, have found these to be false, while acknowledging the remote risks.

There is no factual basis for the assertion that you are more likely to be diagnosed with a birth defect after getting a flu shot, much less “5x MORE LIKELY.”

Asked about the “like,” Marble said via email:

Marble: A “Like” on FB to many people, including myself, means “Thanks for the information” or “Thanks for posting”. There are things on FB I do not like reading, but, it
gave me heads up on a subject I may not have been aware of. Perhaps it gave a different look into the other side of the debate. I appreciate that. It’s pretty simple. Tweets/Blogs/FB/social media are where people voice opinions on events, other people, or, whatever they feel important. It isn’t considered investigative reporting. It may serve to perk the interest of the person reading the social media post to do more in depth research of the subject. That is a purpose served.

The Republican lawmaker once sponsored legislation affirming that parents can opt their children out of recommended vaccines in Colorado.

Marble’s comments on health issues have draw attention in the past.

Marble made national news last year for her dismissive response to a cub scout who asked Marble why she’d said that African-Americans suffer from poor health because they eat so much fried chicken.

Back in 2014, Marble asserted that immigrants bring previously eradicated diseases to the United States. She never provided evidence supporting this mean falsehood.

This post was updated after initial publication with a response from Marble.

Gubernatorial candidate Coffman implies that journalist is in the tank for GOP mega-donor and newspaper owner Anschutz

Monday, February 5th, 2018

During a KNUS radio interview Saturday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman implied that ColoradoPolitics reporter Joey Bunch is writing unflattering articles about her gubernatorial campaign at the behest of Republican mega-donor Phil Anschutz, who owns ColoradoPolitics and the Colorado Springs Gazette through Clarity Media.

KNUS 710-AM HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN: [at 12 minutes] I don’t know if your ears were burning last night, but on “Colorado Inside Out”, Joey Bunch — veteran political reporter — said, “What’s up with Cynthia Coffman? She doesn’t really have a campaign.” I know you have a website now. But, do you have a full- blown campaign? Do you have a campaign manager? Are you ready to really participate in this race?

COFFMAN: You know, I’m going to say, “Baloney!” to Joey. Joey Bunch works for the Colorado Springs Gazette, owned by Phil Anschutz, who has already put out an editorial saying everyone in the Republican primary field should just clear the way for [Colorado Treasurer] Walker Stapleton, because that’s who [Anschutz] supports. So, I think you need to consider the source. Yes, I have a campaign. As I told you, I won Attorney General statewide by a higher percentage than anyone else. I know how to run a statewide campaign and I think people need to stop worrying about the girl in the race.

In fact, the Gazette published a finger-wagging editorial last month stating that Coffman and the other GOP gubernatorial candidates, except Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, “would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping [Stapleton] win against the odds.”

And, in fact, Bunch appeared on Colorado Inside Out Friday, saying, “You know what is holding up? The fact that Cynthia Coffman doesn’t have a campaign or a message or any momentum at all. And she also doesn’t have any money.”

And, in fact (again), Bunch has posted multiple articles that raise questions about Coffman’s campaign (e.g., herehere, here, and here). ColoradoPolitics reporter Ernest Luning has written one as well.

But unfortunately, those three facts don’t come close to proving  that Anschutz is dispatching Bunch to attack Coffman in hopes of promoting Stapleton.

Coffman’s implied accusation is the kind that’s heard when a journalist is reporting information that a candidate doesn’t want to hear.

And in this case, Coffman hasn’t responded to Bunch’s specific points, made by other political observers as well, about lack of money, momentum, or campaign operations. So the evidence-free implication about Bunch being in Anschutz’s tank serves as little more than the ultimate insult for a professional journalist.

In an email, Bunch stood behind his reporting, writing, “I’ve reported what’s she said, her financial report and what appears to be a lack of an organized campaign or clear message on transportation and where she stands on abortion, something that matters deeply to the Republican base. Her first quarter in the race she spent about $14,000 and raised a little less than $100,000. I haven’t heard from any press person she’s employed, and it’s not clear who her campaign manager is.”

BUNCH: “I’ve said worse about her. I’m flattered she cared enough to mention me by name. I can live without positive attention.

Maybe I’m wrong, Maybe she actually does have a campaign.

Man, what a world, a conservative criticizing me because I work for Anschutz. I thought the liberals were supposed to do that.

But in this race Cynthia doesn’t know who she is, and that’s a big part of her problem: no money, no message, no base. Is she Cynthia who shouted “Go Trump” on Election Night, or is she Cynthia who told the NYT people lament not electing a woman president the same night?”

Coffman’s office did not respond to my request for evidence that Anschutz is directing Bunch’s reporting.

As Bunch points out, you’d expect to see the red flags about Republican donor Anschutz and ColoradoPolitics being waved by progressives. My response to them is, I trust the journalists at the Anschutz-owned outlet to let us know if the owner’s fist pounds the table and demands bias. They’d know, and I think at least some of them would tell us what’s going on.

 

Radio host calls himself “very, very middle-of-the-road” but says he voted for Trump and thinks Clinton “should be in jail”

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Tubbs announces new show on KNUS -2018-02-01-11-29-06-918If you’re one of the three people who follow the Denver radio scene closely, you know that longtime KOA morning host Steffan Tubbs was fired last year, after his arrest on domestic-violence charges, which were later dismissed.

Now Tubbs is jumping over to conservative KNUS radio, joining a lineup of ultra-conservative local yappers. The local part I like; the monolithic conservatism is ugly and getting uglier in the age of Trump.

So I was glad to see that KNUS was adding Tubbs, who I thought was less of a predictable conservative than other KNUS hosts. Tubbs often asked decent questions of his guests on his KOA show, and I admired his book about an African-American serviceman.

But it looks like Tubbs is a moderate no longer, if he ever was one. Judging from a KNUS guest appearance Jan. 19, it looks like his departure from KOA has sent his right wing flapping.

“If you’re just tuning in, and you wonder who I am, I consider myself very, very middle-of-the-road. I consider myself to be a reformed Democrat. When I was younger, let the government help, and all this sort of thing.

“And as I’ve become more mature, and I hope a little fiscally more responsible, you know where I am voting now. And so, just to be clear, as my old friend at KOA Mike Rosen said, let me know where you stand before you sit, I think Hillary Clinton right now should be in jail, I voted for President Trump, I wish the President didn’t tweet as much, but I think we need more common sense.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Wishing Hillary were locked up. Voting for Trump. Moderate?

I tried repeatedly to reach Tubbs to discuss this, but alas he did not respond to me. In response to my first attempt to contact him last week, he asked for my email address. But radio silence ever since. Oh well.

“I’m not trying to big time, but I am a text away from Senator Cory Gardner,” said Tubbs on air, illustrating his conservative connections, while it’s “very, very tough” for him to reach U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), whom he did say was a “very decent man.”

Tubbs will be taking the KNUS slot currently occupied by social-conservative lawyer Dan Caplis, who announced Jan. 18, that he was going to take “a little sabbatical” from the regular radio show to spend more time with his family and write the definitive book on the “Colorado disaster” with marijuana. He said he plans to return to radio work after his daughter goes to college.

I’m hoping Tubbs won’t turn into another Caplis on the ideology scale. But it’s not looking good.

Listen to Staffan Tubbs say he’s a moderate despite voting for Trump and saying Clinton should be in jail.

 

Tancredo cites unfriendly relationship with media as a factor in his decision to exit governor’s race

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

I caught up with former Congressman Tom Tancredo the day after he announced his decision to abandon his campaign to be governor of Colorado.

“I’m here with a truck load of furniture that I have to unload entirely by myself,” Tancredo told me, saying he was backing his truck into his driveway as he was talking. “And I’m thinking, ‘You know, did you count on this, Tom? You’re going to have to deal with all this crap by yourself. Maybe I should have thought this whole thing through. I wouldn’t have to unload all of this if I were still a candidate.”

Westord’s Michael Roberts got it right Tuesday, when he reported that Tancredo “speaks in the sort of unfiltered manner that is incredibly rare for any politician, no matter his ideological beliefs.”

Tanc’s comments upon his departure from the race were no exception.

He talked openly about his surprise and disappointment at not being able to raise the money that he felt he needed to win the general election, even though he thought he could win the GOP primary.

He called Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who’s still in the gubernatorial race, the “ultimate insider.” At the same time, he was openly envious at the Bush cousin’s fundraising abilities.

Tancredo said it will be “hard for any Republican to win.” But he didn’t say it was out of the question either, just impossible for him without money he didn’t have.

He said his relationship with the media would also have hurt him:

Tancredo: “I do not have the luxury of a friendly relationship with the media, The Denver Post, Channel 9, and certainly the Colorado Springs Gazette.”

But he pointed out that the Gazette, which backs Stapleton, warmed to him after he dropped from the race,  even calling him “iconic” after lambasting him last month.

The Gazette used Tancredo’s departure to again call on other Republicans to exit the race: “Despite Tancredo’s move, the Republican field remains crowded with eight declared candidates. Others would do themselves and their party a favor to follow Tancredo’s lead if they can’t raise big money soon and achieve good name recognition.”

All of this, plus the prospect of facing a well-funded Democrat in the general election, led Tancredo to conclude it was time to drop out. He’d promised from the beginning that if he did not think he could win the general election, he’d leave the race to others.

For progressive journalists, like Mike Littwin, Tancredo’s exit is mixed blessing. As Littwin wrote toward the end of a column on Tancredo’s sudden departure, “And, on a personal note, with the race still in its early stages, I just lost about half my material.”