Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

State legislator removes fake news from her Facebook page, saying she did not realize it was false

Monday, January 9th, 2017

roupe-on-sagging-pants-2016-05-25State Rep. Kit Roupe (R-Colorado Springs) has cleansed a false “public service announcement” from her Facebook page.

In May, Roupe shared the fake-news item, which falsely claimed that the “trend of wearing pants below your butt” was started by prisoners who wanted to “signal” that they were “willing to have sex with other prisoners.”

“If it was false, and it came to my attention that it was false, then of course I would [remove it]” Roupe told me.

Roupe removed the sagging-pants fake news item after it was cited in a December BigMedia.org investigation of fake news appearing on the Facebook pages of state legislators.

Asked if she always deletes Facebook items once she finds out they’re fake or inaccurate, Roupe said, “Yeah, once I know that it’s false. I mean, sometimes you can tell when it’s false and sometimes you can’t.”

In this case, the sagging-pants falsehood had been proven bogus by Snopes about a year before Roupe posted it.

“Sometimes I’ll [post something on Facebook] to spontaneously combust conversation, not to claim that it’s news, but to get people to talk about stuff.”

While I disagree that state legislators like Roupe should spread rumors to ignite conversation, I give Roupe big credit for removing fake news from her Facebook page and thereby advancing the cause of fact-based discourse.

Roupe told me she didn’t remember the sagging-pants item specifically and that she manages her own Facebook page. So she would have been the one to remove it.

Roupe’s personal Facebook policy regarding fake news is similar to the guidelines in the Fake News Pledge that BigMedia.org is asking legislators to sign. It reads, in part, that if a legislator posts a fake news item that’s “deemed unproven or false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet, information from my Facebook page will be removed as soon as possible–or detailed reasons for not deleting it will be provided.”

Roupe did not post reasons for deleting the sagging-pants fake news item.

Roupe, who’s loss in the November election means she’ll be leaving the State Legislature this week, declined to sign The Fake News Pledge, telling me in an email that it’s “moot” due to her imminent departure. She did not respond to my request to sign the Fake News Pledge for ordinary citizens.

Fake news is defined in the pledge as “inaccurate information, packaged to look somehow like news.”

The “Public Service Announcement” that Roupe removed from her Facebook page stated:

“For all those who think it’s nice to walk around with your pants below your butt…read the following explanation: The trend was born in the United States’ jails, where prisoners who were willing to have sex with other prisoners needed to invent a signal that would go unnoticed by the guards so they wouldn’t suffer consequences. So, by partially showing their butts, they showed that they were available to be penetrated by other inmates. Click ‘share’ if you want to join the cause for a better dressed and more educated world.”

In its post debunking this fake news, Snopes wrote:

Snopes: “While sagging did gain its start in the U.S. prison system, it was not a clothes-wearing style authored by imprisoned homosexuals intent upon advertising their interest in casual flings. Sagging pants became the behind-the-bars thing thanks to ill-fitting prison-issue garb: some of those incarcerated were provided with clothing a few sizes too large. That oversizing, coupled with the lack of belts in the big house, led to a great number of jailbirds whose pants were falling off their arses. (Belts are not permitted in most correctional facilities because all too often the lifeless bodies of their inmate owners have been found hanging from them.)”

The other state lawmakers, whose Facebook pages were found to contain fake news, have yet to remove the inaccurate items.

State senator declines to sign fake news pledge, saying the term fake news “smacks of a new censorship”

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

You’d think twice about signing some pledges, if you’re a politician.

But a pledge not to spread fake news, if it’s found to be false by “Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet?”  And to remove such falsehoods accidentally posted on Facebook unless “detailed reasons for not deleting” them are provided.

That’s kind of like saying, I promise to tell the truth, as I see it, to the best of my ability.

So why wouldn’t everyone sign such the pledge? Alas, Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) has rejected the fake news pledge, stating in an email to me:

Lundberg: I have always been as careful as I can in not promoting inaccurate information. However, there is a troubling element to the idea that news out of the mainstream might be suspected of being “fake.”

Having been a legislator for many years, and at one time a member of the news media, I know that every story is laced with the assumptions and perspective of the reporter. Hence, almost all stories have elements of what somebody might want to brand as “fake.” This is the reality of news reporting and the consumer of this information should always be discerning.

This new term “fake news,” to me smacks of a new censorship that ultimately could do more damage than what inaccurate news could ever do on its own.

I will respectfully decline to sign your pledge.

Kevin Lundberg
Colorado State Senate

I disagree with Lundberg, because the fake news pledge, developed in response to Colorado lawmakers who spread fake news last year, specifically allows him to post “out of the mainstream” news on his Facebook page, even if mainstream news outlets find it to be false. All he has to do is defend it.

And if spotlighting the term “fake news” “smacks of a new censorship” and risks causing more damage than inaccurate news is currently causing, than how can we challenge misinformation? What terms can we use to talk about falsehoods without being accused of censorship?

But I do appreciate Lundberg taking time to explain his position on the fake-news-pledge to me. It’s a step toward creating the civil, factual discourse that the pledge seeks to nurture.

Still, lawmakers who disagree with Lundberg can sign the pledge here. Citizens sign here.

If Trump isn’t among the most important interview topics for gubernatorial candidates, what is?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews obviously got it right on Sunday when he reported that the fallout from the presidential race will affect Democrats and Republicans who want to be Colorado’s next governor.

With respect to possible Republican gubernatorial candidates, like Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Matthews reported:

How [Republican] party members view the start to [Trump’s] presidency could have an impact on which candidates they support. Stapleton, for example, backed distant relative Jeb Bush in the GOP primary, although he later voted for Trump.

Some Republican candidates, like Stapleton, probably don’t want to be asked 1) about their presidential vote, or 2) what they think of Trump’s actions/behavior. (See Stapleton dodge the topic here last year.)

But that’s why reporters should continue asking both questions–and because they are of ongoing relevance and an inescapable part of the story line leading up to next year’s election.

As for other possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, in addition to Stapleton, Matthews mentioned state Sens. Tim Neville and Ray Scott, who are both on record as supporting Trump, as well as Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who appeared to signal her backing of the president-elect by cheering “Go Trump!” on election night, and George Brauchler, whose presidential vote is apparently still unknown.

9News‘ anchor Kyle Clark missed a chance to ask Brauchler about Trump during a Next with Kyle Clark interview last week, but undoubtedly the topic of Trump will come up repeatedly as Republicans and Democrats dither about whether to officially launch gubernatorial campaigns.

I mean, if Trump isn’t among the most important topics in an interview with almost any candidate, what is?

Colorado lawmakers caught spreading fake news; all legislators, Republican and Democrat, should sign the ‘Fake News Pledge’

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Facebook and Google are taking a lot of heat for allowing falsehoods, packaged as news, to viralize across the internet, but lawmakers, who legitimize this fake news by spreading it, clearly contribute to the problem.

Today, I’m calling on Colorado’s state legislators to be part of the solution, and join the fight against fake news, by signing the Fake News Pledge below.

As a longtime progressive journalist and former media critic at the Rocky Mountain News, I believe it’s critical for our democracy that citizens aren’t manipulated by bogus information.

By signing the pledge, lawmakers (and citizens) can help fight for facts and meaningful debate. There is no reason that all elected officials, from President-elect Donald Trump down, shouldn’t sign. But our focus now is members of the Colorado legislature.

The pledge reads:

Fake News Pledge for Elected Officials

As an elected official, I agree that the spread of fake news on Facebook and other social media platforms has a toxic effect on rational civic discourse. And I understand that when community leaders spread fake news, we legitimize it. By our example, we encourage people to play fast and loose with facts, and we blur the lines between real journalism and fabricated stories masquerading as news.

So, to promote informed and reasoned debate, I pledge not to knowingly spread fake news. If I accidentally do so, by sharing, “liking,” or posting inaccurate information, packaged to look somehow like news, I will remove the falsehood as soon as possible and post a correction as well as an explanation of why I posted it in the first place.

If it’s deemed unproven or false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet, information from my Facebook page will be removed as soon as possible–or detailed reasons for not deleting it will be provided.

(Legislators can sign the pledge here.)

It seems like a no-brainer that our legislators will sign our pledge posthaste.

But in doing so, some of them will have to change their ways.

I looked at the Facebook pages of all Colorado state legislators from Oct. 1 until the November election, and I found that three lawmakers spread fake news during that time.

State Rep. Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park), who’s the Assistant State House Minority Leader, posted an item with the headline “WHOA! Hillary Caught On Hot Mic Trashing Beyonce’ with RACIAL SLURS! Looks like Hillary may have just lost one of her biggest endorsements.”

lawrence-on-hillary-trashing-byonce-with-racial-surs-lastlineofdefense-org

“If this is true,” wrote Lawrence on Facebook Oct. 6 when she posted the meme, “it fits in with the accusation that the Democrats only work with the African-American community when they need votes.”

But it’s not true, as Snopes determined on Nov. 5, the day before Lawrence posted her “if-it-is-true” comment.

But even if Snopes hadn’t already fact checked the linked article, Lawrence should have known the news was fake, because, as Snopes pointed out, the website, “The Resistance: The Last Line Of Defense,” which published the Beyonce’ fake news, has a disclaimer, which reads:

DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney.

And even if there were no disclaimer on the website of the fake-news outlet, you don’t promote information that’s not from a trusted site, if you don’t know it’s true, especially if you are a legislator. That’s bad for representative democracy.

My review of October Facebook pages also revealed that on Oct. 15, State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) liked a fake-news story, posted by a known-to-be-dubious site called Americannews.com, titled, “BLM gets Louisiana Police Chief Fired After He Exposes Obama’s War on Cops.”

woods-on-blm-fired-2016-10-15-americannews

In fact, in September, about a month before Woods liked the item, the Washington Post and other news outlets reported that the police chief was fired by the town council two days after the police chief wrote on Facebook, “Hey Mr. Bulls— president, when are you going to grow a f—ing pair. And tell it like it is. These are terrorist. That have declared f—ing war on my brother. (White police officers) enough is enough.”

There’s no evidence the BLM had anything to do with the firing.

This wasn’t the first time Woods, whose November loss means she’ll leave the state senate in January, has spread fake news on Facebook.

On August 30, Woods shared a fake news item from TheFreePatriot.org stating, “Courts Quietly Confirm that ONE Children’s Vaccine Does Cause Autism.”

The Aug. 16, 2016, FreePatriot.org story, making the false claim about autism, is actually a reprint of a 2013 Whiteout Press article, the core facts of which were found to be false by Politifact back in February of 2015, over a year before Woods liked the fake-news item.

woods-sharing-news-that-courts-confirm-vaccine-causes-autism-thefreepatriotdotorg

Politifact concluded:

“The researchers we contacted said that as far as the science is concerned, certainty had been reached at least 10 years ago with the release of a major national study debunking the link between the measles mumps, rubella vaccine and autism.”

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) also spread fake news during the time period studied. On Oct. 15 the Colorado Springs Republican posted a “Breaking News” item from EndingTheFed.com, with the headline, “IT’S OVER: Wikileaks Exposes The Assassination of Scalia… This Will Bring Down the Clintons and the Democratic Party!”

Klingenschmit’s comment on the post: “Anybody have a comment on this? Scalia dies same weekend after Podesta (for Hillary Clinton) sends this ‘wet works’ email? Hmmmm.”

Judging from his post, Klingenschmitt doesn’t appear to be fully convinced of the Scalia assassination “news.” But he posted it on Facebook anyway.

Does anyone think lawmakers should post “news” that’s dubious actually a rumor, especially from a site like EndingTheFed that’s known to produce fake news?

klingenschmidt-on-wikileaks-exposing-assassination-of-scalia-endingthefed

And, sure enough, the day after Klingenschmitt posted it, Snopes determined the item to be “false.” Snopes’ headline reads, “An e-mail published by WikiLeaks referenced not the literal assassination of Antonin Scalia, but what appeared to be a coordinated smear of Bernie Sanders.”

Yet, Klingenschmitt did not delete the fake news from his Facebook page, where it sits, rotting public discourse, to this day, like all the fake news I cite in this post.

More Fake News on Facebook from Colorado Lawmakers

More anecdotal evidence, outside of our pre-election analysis, shows Colorado legislators are spreading fake news.

On September 30, for example, Lawrence posted the following quote, from “Rockit News:”

“She will say anything and change nothing. Hillary can’t be trusted and isn’t qualified to be president.” Barack Obama, 2008.

“He was right then, and still is,” wrote Lawrence on her Facebook page.

One big problem. While the first sentence is Obama’s, the second was never uttered by him.

lawrence-fake-obama-quote-rockit-news-9-30-16

About a month before Lawrence posted the meme, Snopes reported:

“Barack Obama didn’t say that Hillary Clinton could not be trusted or that she was not qualified for president.”

State Rep. Kit Roupe (R-Colorado Springs), who will also be leaving the legislature in January, shared a “public service announcement” in May, stating:

“For all those who think it’s nice to walk around with your pants below your butt…read the following explanation: The trend was born in the United States’ jails, where prisoners who were willing to have sex with other prisoners needed to invent a signal that would go unnoticed by the guards so they wouldn’t suffer consequences. So, by partially showing their butts, they showed that they were available to be penetrated by other inmates. Click ‘share’ if you want to join the cause for a better dressed and more educated world.”

roupe-on-sagging-pants-2016-05-25

About a year before Roupe spread this, Snopes had dutifully researched this topic, concluding Roupe’s public service announcement to be false.

Snopes: “While sagging did gain its start in the U.S. prison system, it was not a clothes-wearing style authored by imprisoned homosexuals intent upon advertising their interest in casual flings. Sagging pants became the behind-the-bars thing thanks to ill-fitting prison-issue garb: some of those incarcerated were provided with clothing a few sizes too large. That oversizing, coupled with the lack of belts in the big house, led to a great number of jailbirds whose pants were falling off their arses. (Belts are not permitted in most correctional facilities because all too often the lifeless bodies of their inmate owners have been found hanging from them.)”

In August of last year State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) posted a fake-news item stating, “Obama Begins Push for New National Retirement System.”

The linked article, based on a hearing way back in 2010, claimed the Obama Administration had begun an effort “to nationalize the nation’s pension system and to eliminate private retirement accounts including IRA’s and 401k plans.”

neville-on-obama-new-national-reitrement-system-2015-09-03-nationalseniorscouncil

Neville’s comment on the meme: “…the tyranny continues.”

But years ago, when the accusation was first hurled by the conservative National Seniors Council, Factcheck.org showed it to be false:

Factcheck.org: Is the Obama administration attempting to eliminate private 401(k)s and IRAs and create a “national retirement system?”
A: No. Obama endorses a proposal that would require businesses without retirement plans to establish private IRAs for their employees and deposit a percentage of wages into the accounts. Employees could opt out.

In July of 2015, Neville posted a fake-news meme, published by the Daily Caller, with the headline, “Satellites: Earth Is Nearly in Its 21st Year Without Global Warming.” The linked article allegedly cites satellite data showing a “prolonged hiatus” in global warming.

“Global warming alarmists have a real problem,” wrote Neville on Facebook. “Satellite data tells the real story.”

neville-on-earth-in-21st-year-without-global-warming-2015-07-19-daily-caller

But about four months before Neville posted this comment, Factcheck.org showed it to be false, stating that the “world has now gone 30 consecutive years — 360 straight months — where every month has been above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Factcheck.org and other news outlets specifically cited the satellite data as not proving a warming hiatus.

Lawmwkers who’ve Spread Fake News

So far, it appears that few elected state officials have been spotlighted for spreading fake news on social media. Two examples, compiled in a post on the Colorado Times Recorder yesterday, are State Rep. Tim Couch (R-Hyden) of Kentucky and California Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez.

A wider look at the role of lawmakers in spreading fake news is called for, particularly after officials connected to the Trump campaign, including his pick for national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, promoted Clinton falsehoods on Twitter or Facebook.

Step Up and Sign the Fake News Pledge

The issues around fake news are numerous and complex. But that doesn’t mean people in Colorado can’t do anything about it. This starts with our elected leaders who clearly add legitimacy to information they spread on Facebook.

So elected leaders everywhere should step up and sign pledge.

Lawmakers deserve to be held accountable for spreading fake news, but all of us–not just our elected leaders and regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum–can pledge not to spread fake news.

That’s why we’ve also created Fake News Pledge for Citizens. Everyone can sign it here.

In the coming months, we’ll be tracking how many of Colorado’s state legislators add their names to the pledge–along with everyday citizens. We’ll see if lawmakers from around the country sign.

And we’ll cast a wider net, looking at lower level office holders in Colorado, to find out if more of our elected leaders are spreading fake news. Stay tuned.

Michael Lund and Madeleine Schmidt provided research assistance for this post. 

“Remember when Americans could say ‘Merry Christmas’ without getting viciously attacked?”

Friday, December 9th, 2016

woods-says-people-who-say-merry-xmas-get-viciously-attackedWhy did State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) share a recent Facebook post asking, “Remember when Americans could say ‘Merry Christmas’ without getting viciously attacked?”

What reality is she in? The conservative-media-bubble reality, of course. Talk radio, Facebook, etc.

If you listen to KNUS 710-AM or follow Woods on Facebook then, yes, you might actually think meanie libtards are out their waiting to viciously attack you if you drop the Merry-Christmas bomb. It’s a manufactured reality.

It’s sad that Woods, who lost her seat in last month’s election, apparently believes it. And I’d like the opportunity to discuss her Facebook like, first revealed by Charles Buchanan on the Colorado Times Recorder, but she doesn’t return my calls.

Woods might say that disputes about the phrase “Merry Christmas” occur in the real world, outside of talk radio. And they do, especially about its use in public places. And they can be a bit vicious, no question, at times. But this is rare.

It’s conservatives, firing up the air in their bubble, who perpetuate the myth of viciousness, as Woods did this week on her Facebook feed.

Will Colorado public officials be more careful about spreading fake news?

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Colorado Republicans did their part in spreading fake news and/or falsehoods on Facebook during the election, as Charles Buchanan has been pointing out on the Colorado Times Recorder.

Below, I’ve pulled together a few examples from Buchanan’s posts (See more here.), and they raise the question of whether public officials, as well as partisan entities, will be more careful, going forward, about fact checking information before they post it on Facebook.

Before and after the election, reporters have been spotlighting fake news and its possible impact on Clinton. Fake news appears to be especially popular among conservative audiences.

In the coming months, I’ll check in with public officials, Republican or Democrat, if they’ve posted or shared fake news or falsehoods on Facebook.

We’ll see if they have sufficient respect for public discourse to remove their inaccurate information, once it’s been proven false.

Here are recent examples, from Buchanan’s work:

In August, Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada), who lost her seat to Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, shared a false meme that vaccines causes autism.

In August, the Gunnison County Republican Party apparenlty shared a meme quoting that Diane Feinstein as saying, “When the gunman realizes that nobody else is armed, he will lay down his weapons and turn himself in…that’s just human nature.” Feinstein did not say that. 

Failed GOP state house candidate Raymond Garcia, who seemed outright averse to fact checking his Facebook posts during the campaign, shared a meme stating that Hillary Clinton’s great-great uncle was hanged for horse stealing. This isn’t true.

GOP Vice Chair Derrick Wilburn shared a meme claiming that Obama’s Department of Justice would no longer use the word “felon,” so as not to hurt the feelings of criminals. In fact, this was not a department-wide policy but would only apply to those who’d served time and were released, in an effort to help them succeed.

In July, Saguache GOP Chair Richard Drake shared a meme with an alleged quote from Jimmy Carter stating, “The novelty of electing ‘the First Woman President of the United States’ should not outweigh our duty in electing an honest and ethical president.” Carter didn’t say this.

GOP U.S. House candidate Casper Stockham shared a meme falsely claiming that purple lights decorated the Obama White House when Prince died but was unchanged when “5 Dallas cops died.” In fact, the purple lighting never occurred.

Failed state house candidate Garcia also shared a meme on Facebook falsely claiming to picture a topless Hillary Clinton as a lesbian. It’s not Clinton.

screenshot-www-facebook-com-2016-11-01-08-38-29

Former vice chair of the Adams County Republican Party, John Sampson, shared a meme claiming to show Michelle Obama texting during the plede of allegiance. It’s not Obama.

screenshot-www-facebook-com-2016-10-28-08-11-35

In September, former State Rep. Robert Ramirez posted a meme falsely quoting Obama as saying, “Muslims Built the Very Foundation of our Nation.” This is also false. Obama never said it.

ramiriez-false-quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please send me any examples of officials spreading fake news. We know there’s more where this came from

Patrick Neville, a frequent voice on conservative talk radio, takes leadership role in Colorado House

Monday, November 14th, 2016

State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), whose voice is familiar to listeners of conservative talk radio, was elected to the position of Republican state house minority leader Thursday.

Asked if he could see anything beyond gridlock coming out of next year’s legislative session, Neville said he had a “decent” and “productive” lunch with Gov. John Hickenlooper, leading him to think there is “common ground” to be found on some issues, like on regulatory reform.

On the radio, Neville talks frequently about guns, and he’s widely known as one of the most ardent opponents of gun safety laws in the state.

But his conservative positions go beyond firearms, and The Denver Post described him last week as a “conservative ideologue.”

The Women’s Lobby of Colorado scorecard rates Neville, an early Trump supporter, at or near the bottom among state legislators n votes related to women’s issues.

“I’m pro-life, and I don’t make any bones about it,” he told me last week.

In fact, Neville is a hero among anti-choice activists in Colorado for, among other things, his sponsorship this year of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would step up licensing requirements at clinics where abortions are performed.

Colorado Campaign for Life activist Christy Rodriquez cited this bill as a reason her organization gave Neville its 2016 Pro-Life Legislator of the Year Award in September.

“I’m truly humbled.… It doesn’t get better than this,” said Neville, after being introduced by Rodriquez.

During his speech (at 7 minutes) at the award ceremony, Neville described testimony on his bill by a doctor who performs abortions, saying that after he greeted her he felt like he’d “shaken the devil’s hand and smiled at him.”

Neville: This one person, I didn’t recognize her name, she comes up. And I went to shake her hand, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never had this feeling in my whole entire life. I had this crazy feeling of impending doom that came over the whole room. I came over me. And it was crazy. I don’t know how to explain it. But the best way to explain it is, I felt like I had just shaken the devil’s hand and smiled at him.  It was something else. And as testimony proceeded, we came to find out that that person was an abortionist… That feeling stuck with me for the longest time….

Let’s recognize what’s going on in this country. We’re supposed to be the most civilized nation in the history of the world. Yet, babies can be torn apart and their hearts sold for profit. We got to recognize that that’s wrong.

In fact, federal law prohibits selling fetal tissue for profit, and recent investigations of Planned Parenthood have not produced evidence that these laws are being broken.

“In a state where both Hillary Clinton and a raise in the minimum wage won, and one in which we increased the pro-choice majority in the House, Colorado voters sent a clear message of moderation,” said Karen Middleton, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “Coloradans have said – and voted – repeatedly that decisions about abortion are a matter of individual liberty and privacy, not something that belongs to politicians or the government. They deserve to be listened to.

So by picking leaders like Representatives Patrick Neville and Lori Saine, two legislators that have spearheaded failed anti-choice legislation in the last General Assembly, it appears in 2016 House Republicans didn’t get that message. While I am disappointed in these leadership decisions, I hope that our strengthened pro-choice majority in this state will work with us to engage our elected leadership and defeat any ideological overreach.”

Another key issue facing the state legislature is the proposal by Democrats to reclassify a hospital fee as an enterprise under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a move that would free over $300 million for roads, schools, and other projects.

Emphasizing that he didn’t speak for his caucus, Neville said discussions about the hospital provider fee were not off the table, and he had a “good conversation with the governor about it.”

“We’ll have to look at the details,” said Neville.

Campaign aims to take advantage of climate of “misogyny” to boot anti-choice state lawmakers

Friday, November 4th, 2016

The combination Trump’s “misogyny,” last year’s murders at a Colorado Springs clinic, and the popularity of Planned Parenthood is translating into votes for pro-choice candidates in Colorado, according to Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado (PPVC) Director Sarah Taylor-Nanista.

“Violent rhetoric across the country angers women, but there is a specific connection in Colorado, where we just saw how violent anti-choice language actually ended up hurting people,” said Taylor-Nanista. “And I think it’s hitting home among women voters in a profound way.”

Trying to take advantage of this election climate, PPVC is executing a multi-prong strategy to push pro-choice voters, particularly women, to the polls.

Under a $250,000 state-wide program, PPVC staff has knocked on over 6,000 doors, called over 13,000 voters, launched 10 mail pieces, and pushed earned and digital communications efforts focusing on reproductive health messages, including abortion access, according to Taylor-Nanista.

Taylor-Nanista said internal polling shows Planned Parenthood’s approval rating in Colorado to be over 65 percent.

“Beyond just the state of Colorado, we’re seeing nationally that defunding Planned Parenthood is one of the biggest incentives for people to get out and vote this year,” said Taylor-Nanista. “It’s a message that’s resonating over and over.”

Asked for a response to the alleged good will that voters feel toward Planned Parenthood, Leslie Hanks, a Denver-based spokeswoman for American Right to Life, said via email that Planned Parenthood staff should be put on trial for murder.

“Nothing generates ‘good will’ like parsing out baby body parts to increase Planned Murderhood’s bottom line!” wrote Hanks. “America needs another round of Nuremberg Trials.”

There’s no evidence Planned Parenthood profits from the sale fetal tissue, and exhaustive investigations have concluded that Planned Parenthood has broken no laws.

“In this election, where there is so much emphasis on misogyny and violence against women, Planned Parenthood is a perfect messenger,” said Taylor-Nanista. “We’re seeing that. Our partners see that. We are in a place to make an incredible impact this year.”

“Folks are coming to us and saying, ‘Can we use your messaging to further our own program?’”

In Colorado, PPVC is focusing on three key suburban state-senate districts and one state-house district, where women are widely seen as a swing voter bloc, and are responding favorably to the positions of candidates on women’s health issues, including abortion access, according to Taylor-Nanista.

In an Arvada state-senate race that’s pivotal to Democrats’ hopes of taking control of Colorado government, incumbent Republican State Sen. Laura Woods has called for defunding Planned Parenthood and favors a total abortion ban, while her opponent for the Senate District 19 seat, Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, is pro-choice.

If Planned Parenthood lost federal funding, the organization would be forced to turn away about 1,000 low-income patients, whose care is provided by federal funding, at its Arvada clinic, in Woods’ district, according to Planned Parenthood.

PPVC canvassers in the Arvada/Westminster district have visited and called hundreds of voters, mailed multiple ads, and pushed pro-choice messages out on multiple digital platforms.

During the last election, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall emphasized pro-choice messaging throughout his race against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who narrowly defeated Udall. This year, despite polling in Colorado that shows the popularity of pro-choice messaging, abortion has played a diminished role, both in campaign advertising and debate.

Coffman, Doty, Woods offer reporters localized election-night Trump material

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Doty Tweets from Trump Rally 10-16The story of Trump’s impact on down-ballot races Colorado is unfolding in front of us in the strangest ways, with Colorado Republicans going every which way when it comes to the mogul.

A unique approach to Trump has been taken by Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who’s running against Democrat Daniel Kagan in a Cherry Hills state-state race that Democrats must win to take control of the chamber.

Doty said in June that she’d support Trump, and later called Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump “spot on.”

But then she told the Aurora Sentinel last month that her vote is a “private decision.” The Denver Post reported most Oct. 23 that Doty’s not commenting on Trump.

But lo, Doty tweeted a photo Saturday from her apparent appearance at the Trump rally in Golden, without comment, as if to say, “Look! I’m still voting for Trump, but a secret is a secret.”

But in any case, on election night, reporters should reflect on what’s worked Trump-wise for Colorado Republicans in tight races. The Doty approach?

State Sen. Laura Woods’ I-Believe-Trump-Will-“Lead-our-Country-to-Greatness-Once-Again” strategy.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s strategery of dodge trump (December), then yes Trump (February), then maybe Trump (May and August), then no Trump (October). And possibly no one (October).

We’ll never know Trump’s exact impact in Colorado’s down-ballot races, but that shouldn’t stop reporters from having fun trying to figure it out anyway on Tuesday night, using our abundant local material.

Best local journalism of the 2016 election season

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Here are my favorite election stories by local journalists:

Denver 7’s Marshall Zelinger of course gets the top prize in both the journalism and entertainment categories. His series of stories showing forged signatures on the ballot-access petitions of former GOP state Rep. Jon Keyser had a game-changing impact on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and reflected everything you want from journalism, especially at a time when it’s going to the dogs. (Don’t miss your chance to see Zelinger’s Keyser interview again here.)

Without the state-senate campaign coverage by Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Independent and Ernest Luning and John Tomasic at the Colorado Statesman, we would’ve had little reporting—until the final weeks—on the key state senate races that will determine control of Colorado government. Other outlets weighed late, which is great, but these races were so pivotal and important to the entire state this year, they deserved the early and sustained focus they got only from the Statesman and the Independent.

Luning also exposed a Democratic state legislative candidate who basically made up his entire resume and was later defeated in his primary race. In a similar vein, Goodland’s piece revealing the potential jail time faced by state house candidate Tim Leonard also deserves high praise. So does former Post reporter Joey Bunch’s treatment of Darryl Glenn’s legal troubles as a young man.

Denver Post reporter John Frank’s series of inside-view articles on the revolt by Colorado Republicans against Trump at the GOP National Convention informed the national debate on the growing #NeverTrump and plain-old anti-Trump movement among Republicans.  (Frank’s prodigious output generally also deserves mention.)

The Denver media’s political-ad fact-checkers have my eternal admiration because their job is tedious and difficult but really valuable. So, a shout out to Denver 7’s Alan Gathright, The Denver Post, 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, and  CBS 4’s Shaun Boyd. Reporters, like the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, who dip into this territory, deserve credit too.

She got ribbed by fellow reporters for burying the lede, but former CO Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader gets credit for reporting U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s off-the-cuff comment that he planned to vote for Trump after all. The story generated national buzz and shows what’s lost as we shed campaign-trail journalism.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins’ story about anonymous campaign flyers may later play a role, in a small way, in a legislative fix that all sides would welcome.

I thought the debates moderated by 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman were particularly informative.

It’s the little things that can make politics fun, so hats off to Molly Morrison at KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs for revealing that Trump was rescued by the Springs’ Fire Department after the head-strong mogul had insulted the Springs’ fire marshal. Nice.

Kudos to 9News‘ Rittiman and Denver’s 7‘s Zelinger for asking U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, after he released an ad critical of Trump in August, who he’d vote for. The fallout from his response—that Coffman would still consider voting for Trump or for the Libertarian candidate–got national coverage. And it t turned out to be a harbinger of Coffman’s troubles later, as he’s tried to both support and oppose Trump at the same time, ultimately opposing Trump. We all love it when journalists follow up beyond the canned statements and ads.

Finally, can you beat the editorials in the Aurora Sentinel? No. Even if you like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), you still have to love the writing in the Sentinel’s endorsement of his Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll, as well as the fire in its other editorials on any political topic.