Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

Full story of Magpul’s gruesome CO connection to Sandy Hook has yet to be told

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Update 1/2/2013: A new chapter in the Magpul story unfolded today when the company announced, in a news release, that it’s moving its Colorado operations to Wyoming and Texas.

If company executives talk to reporters about the move, it would be a good time to bring up the unpleasant subject of Sandy Hook, where the shooter used a 30-round magazine made in Colorado.

Magpul declined to talk to reporters about the Newtown shooting when Connecticut State Police originally reported that a Magpul magazine was used.

And Magpul said nothing after photos were released Dec. 27, as part of a police report, showing its 30-round magazine at the crime scene. In the photos, you can read “Magpul Industries” and “PMAG 30″ on the magazine.

Maybe reporters in Wyoming and Texas will have better luck than journalists here in extracting a comment from Magpul about Sandy Hook and the magazines in these photos:

Police photo showing Magpul magazine used at Sandy Hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, where 20 children were gunned down at Sandy-Hook Elementary School by a shooter using a 30-round bullet holder made in Colorado.

Erie-based Magpul Industries hasn’t commented on the fact that the Newtown shooter used its 30-round magazine at Sandy Hook—or on the possibility that the gunman might not have had a 30-round mag at all if a 15-round magazinelimit (opposed vehemently by Magpul) had been in place in Connecticut or nationally.

But Magpul has been anything but silent on gun-safety issues over the past year or so, as Colorado journalists have reported in bits and pieces. Here’s a quick look at what we know of the larger Magpul story.

Before it was known that a Magpul magazine was used at Sandy Hook, Magpul lobbied hard against Colorado’s proposed legislation to limit magazine capacity to 15 rounds, testifying in the same Feb. 12 and March 4 legislative hearings as Jean Dougherty, sister of the slain Newtown psychologist Mary Sherlach.

Opponents of Colorado’s gun-safety legislation embraced Magpul and promoted the company as their ally. During the debate about the magazine bill, Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman stated that a Magpul magazine had been used by Navy Seals to kill Osama bin Laden. Sen. Greg Brophy offered up his Capitol parking space to a Magpul promotional truck.

After the magazine limit became law, Magpul contributed 20,000 30-round magazines, decorated with a skull & crossbones, to a June 30 fundraising event for recall campaigns targeting State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron.

Of the 20,000 magazines donated by Magpul, 1,500 were given away, and the rest sold at the fundraiser for $10 each, with all proceeds going to an organization called Free Colorado, a newly formed 501c4 nonprofit advocating gun rights, with registered agent Katherine Kennedy who’s the agent for many Republican 527 and independent expenditure groups. Free Colorado announced that all funds from the Magpul rally would be spent specifically on the recall efforts of Morse and Giron.

At the event, held in Glendale, gun extremist Dana Loesch arrived in a Magpul helicopter to give away the free magazines and thrill the crowd.

Free Colorado kept its promise, running its own television ad against Morse and Giron. Television-station information reveals that Free Colorado purchased over $100,000 worth of cable and broadcast time for political ads targeting the recalls.

Of course, Magpul threatened to leave Colorado, if the Legislature passed gun-safety legislation, including a 15-round mag limit. The bills became law in March, but Magpul showed no signs of re-locating its manufacturing operations or, apparently, its political activities, though the company told the Boulder Daily Camera in October that the move is still planned.

So the Sandy Hook anniversary is coming up tomorrow, and as I wrote above, nothing has been heard from Magpul about its connection to the shooting. It appears that in March, a Magpul executive made rather crude references to Sandy Hook in online discussion forums, and the company issued a formal statement on its website after the shooting. And Magpul executive Duane Liptak, during a radio interview with Denver’s own Mike Rosen, addressed speculation about the possible use of a Magpul magazine at Sandy Hook.

There’s a lot for Magpul to reflect on, beyond its gruesome connection to Sandy Hook. I’m hoping a determined journalist has more luck than I’ve had getting through.

 

Media omission: State Republicans try to edit out internal dissent

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Do you remember this headline from The Denver Post Spot blog back in September?

“Upset Republicans propose chicken protest at Colorado GOP meeting Saturday”

It referred to an idea hatched by a group of Republicans to bring boxed chicken to a GOP gathering as a protest against State GOP Chair Ryan Call, who joined Democrats in criticizing a Republican legislator for talking about the “chicken” eating habits of the “black race.”

The protest never happened, but Ryan Call was so upset that the idea for such a protest would land in the hands of The Denver Post that he angrily passed out copies of The Post story at the Sept. meeting of the Republican Party’s Executive Committee and announced that he never wanted to see another article like it again.

During an hour-and-24-minute discussion about the chicken protest, Call angrily reprimanded CO GOP Secretary Lana Fore-Warkocz, who was accused, over her objections, of leaking the chicken-protest story to The Post. Never undermine the Republican Party again, she was told.

That is, according to the unedited, unofficial meeting minutes, written by Fore-Warkocz in her capacity as party secretary, and given to me by credible sources.

But the  Colorado Republican Party’s official minutes of the meeting, which are an edited version of Fore Warkocz’s notes and were also given to me by credible sources, tell a different story:

Official Republican Meeting Notes: “Certain matters concerning recent disclosures in the press, and the airing of disagreements between certain officers and members of the Executive Committee were candidly discussed. Officers and members of the Executive Committee were reminded of the importance of trust, unity, confidentiality and our role as leaders and members of the Executive Committee, and of our duties with respect to the Republican Party, but no formal action was taken.”

The unofficial meeting notes paint a different picture.

State GOP Secretary Fore-Warkocz’ Meeting Notes: “Chairman Call made it clear that I signed up to defend ALL Republicans, including McCain and Boehner, and if I didn’t like that, to check my bags at the door. Chairman Call said that folks like Jason Worley, Ken Clark, the Brattens, Debbie Healy and the Arnol’s are no friends of this party. Again, I was instructed to never undermine the family or the Republican Party again.”

Fore-Warkocz explained in her minutes that she had actually argued against the chicken protest.

But this didn’t stop Ryan Call from telling Fore-Warkocz that “trust and honesty” had been broken and from ordering Fore-Warkocz to notify him “immediately” if she’s invited to another meeting involving dissent (gasp) within the GOP.

“Senator Bill Cadman reiterated Chairman Call’s comments, and I was reprimanded for another 20 minutes,” according to Fore-Warkocz’ version of the meeting.

Fore-Warkocz’ notes state:

“[Committee member] Ellyn Hilliard explained that Ken [Clark] and Jason[Worley] are in it for the ratings and to not speak to them. I explained that I hadn’t.”

(Side note: As a media critic I was floored that anyone would think KLZ talk-radio hosts Ken Clark and Jason Worley are in it for the ratings! No one defends Sen. Vicki Marble for the ratings! You can defend Mylie Cyrus for the ratings. But talking on the radio about chicken or Marble or barbeque doesn’t do much for you. Unless you’re gunning for Tea-Party ratings, which still don’t do much for you.)

At the end of the executive committee meeting, Ryan Call presented a new branding campaign for the Republican Party.

The bold initiative replaces “Grand Old Party” with the smooth-and-easy phrase “Great Opportunity Party.”

“New brochures were presented, and all were very impressed with the new marketing materials,” according to the official minutes.

I get it. Dumping the word “old” will make the Republican Party young!

Just like whitewashing the notes from a contentious GOP meeting will make the Party get along?

Media omission: Gessler confirms Democrats will retain Hudak seat at least through next general election

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Speaking on KOA’s Mike Rosen Show Wed., Secretary of State Scott Gessler said that Colorado Democrats will hold State Sen. Evie Hudak’s seat at least until the next general election in Nov. 2014.

Rosen: So, all things being equal, the Democrats will retain their 18-17 majority in the State Senate through the 2014 session….

Gessler: “That’s correct. Unless someone wants to recall another state senator. But not that I’m advocating for that at the moment. But yeah, currently, that’s the way things are going to work out.  And the Democrats will retain their 18-17 majority. They will cling to it.”

Gessler’s comments, which were not reported by real journalists, are important because recall organizers pledged last week to forge on with signature gathering, hoping that somehow, some way, their efforts would lead to a recall election in Hudak’s Westminster district. Gessler’s comments appear to officially close the door on the Hudak recall campaign.

Media omission: Exposing criminal signature gatherers is “just another tactic of the left,” says Hudak recall organizer

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Yesterday on KNUS, a Hudak-recall leader said that facts, documented Wed. by Fox 31′s Eli Stokols, that a criminal is collecting signatures to put the recall measure on the ballot, are “just another tactic of the left.”

Yet, reporters should know, the two recall leaders, Mike McAlpine and Laura Waters, pledged not to hide from the public, and to be “up front” about the situation.

Here’s part of what they said at 48 min in the second hour of the Peter Boyles show Nov. 13.

Boyles: Laura and Mike, what are you going to do about this?

McAlpine: Well, we’re going to be in a position, Peter, where we have to check on this. We need to make sure everything is above board. We’ll do what’s right.

Boyles: You literally have to. This makes the case that the left wants to believe…. What you must do is confront this. We’ll call Dudley this morning This is, as my grandma used to say, is the fly in the ointment.

Waters: When we saw the piece last night, we immediately looked through our volunteer records. We did not recognize the man…. What we’re seeing this is that people in the community are recognizing this as just another tactic of the left.

McAlpine: …Most of us live in the area and work this out of passion for change…Anybody who’s interested can hear the truth from us. We’re not going to hide behind a series of veils. We’re going to be up front about it.

If exposing the criminal backgrounds of signature-gatherers is just an empty tactic, then you have wonder what’s not just a tactic. What’s meaningful? Boyles didn’t ask.

Boyles continues to deny that Hudak-recall leader called Tom Mauser a Nazi

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

KNUS talk-radio host Peter Boyles has yet to acknowledge that a leader of the Hudak-recall effort, Mike McAlpine, during an appearance on Boyles’ show, referred to pro-Hudak protesters as Nazis.

Boyles even attacked gun-safety activist Tom Mauser for saying, correctly, that McAlpine called Mauser a Nazi.

I called KNUS recently to talk with Boyles about it, and here’s what he said:

Jason: You accused [gun-safety activist Tom] Mauser of lying about McAlpine saying Brownshirts.

Boyles: I said Brownshirt! I said Brownshirt!

Jason: No, you didn’t. Listen to the tape.

Boyles: Of course I did.

This is so bizarre because the audio clearly confirms that McAlpine called the protesters “Brownshirts,” and he was even called out on it by The Denver Post.

Boyles was apparently unaffected by a Oct. 28 news release from the Anti-Defamation League, calling the Brownshirts comment “deeply offensive” and asking “McAlpine, Boyles, and all public figures and community members to refrain from making inappropriate Nazi analogies in the political arena.”

I thought maybe McAlpine could straighten out Boyles himself, so I’ve been emailing and calling him, asking him to acknowledge his Nazi slur and explain it. Twice I got McAlpine on the phone, and twice he told me to send him emails. (I sent them, and he didn’t respond.)

Here’s what McAlpine told me today.

Jason: So I just want to clear up this issue on the Peter Boyles Show. Boyles is saying that he said that the protesters were Brownshirts, but I heard the tape and it sounded like you said it. And I’m wondering if you said it.

McAlpine: You’d be welcome to send me an email on that, and I’d be glad to respond.

Jason: I did a couple times, and you didn’t.

McAlpine: Ok.

Jason: Real quick. Did you say that the protesters were Brownshirts?

McAlpine: You are welcome to send me an email.

I’ve received a number of emails saying Boyles shouldn’t be allowed to get away with his baseless attack on Mauser, in particular. But he is.

Media omission: Hudak-recall leaders lash out at fellow Republicans for “obstructing” their efforts

Friday, November 8th, 2013

CLARIFICATION 11-10-2013: The Colorado Statesman’s Peter Marcus originally reported that Recall Hudak Too hired two young staffers who are involved in the signature-gathering effort, but Marcus found no evidence at the time (Marcus’ article was published Oct. 28.) that Kennedy Enterprises was on the payroll. He also reported that RMGO promised financial support.

UPDATE 11-9-13: Here’s a some evidence that McAlpine’s organization, Recall Hudak Too, has money for signature gathering. It might be gearing up in case money comes in, of course. But signs point to a paid effort.

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The tone of the Hudak-recall organizers was one of forced optimism this morning, as they told KNUS’ Peter Boyles that they’re “just over half way” to their target goal of signatures, and they blamed Colorado GOP Chair Ryan Call and Colorado Republican leaders for obstructing their efforts and turning fellow Republicans against them.

Recall leader Mike McAlpine said Call is “impeding” and “obstructing” the recall, and doing so “to intimidate [Republican] supporters into not supporting a winning issue.”

Sounding hurt, fellow recall organizer Laura Waters said that, thanks to Ryan Call’s comments, “at certain doors and in certain phone calls, we’re even fighting against our own party.”

In numerous morning appearances on KNUS, McAlpine and Waters have avoided attacking fellow Republicans, but on air today, the anger in their voices was deeper and more explosive when they talked about Republicans than it was when they discussed recall target Sen. Evie Hudak.

Listen to McAlpine and Waters on KNUS 11-8-13

Waters got particularly angry when she talked about receiving a fundraising call Monday from the Republican Party telling her that maybe the State GOP would be organizing recall campaigns.

Waters: “[The GOP phone caller] told me that maybe they would be doing some recalls. But what I think is, they were throwing that word [recall] out there. It’s a buzz word that they know will help raise money.”

McAlpine added that he received an email from the Colorado GOP and Ryan Call “saying by insinuation. ‘Pueblo recall was us; Colorado Springs recall was us; grassroots efforts are us.’ It could not be farther from the truth.”

“Here’s the problem we have,” said Waters. “It seems like it’s just us. It’s us. It’s RMGO.”

Yesterday, I pointed out that the Colorado Statesman and The Denver Post published conflicting information about whether paid staff has been hired to gather signatures for the Hudak recall effort, with the Colorado Statesmen’s Peter Marcus reporting McAlpine as saying that  “his group has not paid a petition-gathering firm.” The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee, citing anonymous sources, reported that Kennedy Enterprises is on the payroll.

Statesman reporter Peter Marcus defended his reporting in an email to me yesterday, writing that he asked McAlpine if “Kennedy or any other paid gatherers were collecting signatures at all, and that’s when [McAlpine] told me about the two paid staffers. But they’re teenagers, if I remember correctly, so nothing significant.”

Marcus wrote:

I also asked what RMGO has done for them, and they said pledged financial support.

[Recall organizers] also said that paid petition gatherers isn’t off the table. But this was a few weeks ago.

I’ve been pretty hands on. I’ve been to the house they’re organizing at, I’ve been on the street corners with them — there has not seemed to be a paid petition effort. I also live in the district, and I haven’t seen anything but what looks like volunteers on the street. But it’s been a couple weeks now since I’ve really paid attention. Maybe they’ve hired someone at this point.

I don’t know where Kurtis got his info, but it didn’t match what I was told at the time I was writing my story. I’m not sure if he’s actually been down on the street like I have, but I just have had no indication that they’re paying for signatures. I saw how they were organizing at the house they’re working out of in Arvada, and these guys were volunteers. Granted, many of them are not from the district, but there’s nothing illegal there. These recalls have become more than just district issues, I think everyone knows that. If the Democrats can raise millions from Bloomberg and D.C., then I don’t see why recall proponents should be criticized for utilizing help outside the district.

I just checked out their disclosures on TRACER, and they’ve raised about $23,000, with only $358 in non-monetary items. There’s nothing in their expenditures that shows paying for petition gathering. I also don’t see any contributions from RMGO, or any organizations like that. Their effort looks a lot like the one down in Pueblo, which was mostly grassroots.

I also don’t see any expenditures in the RMGO PAC to the recall effort.

They could funnel donations through a C4, but if Recall Hudak Too takes the contributions, they would at least have to list the C4 on their disclosures. So, if RMGO makes a contribution for petition gathering, or any other organization, then it would be listed on the disclosure as a non-monetary contribution, as was the case in Colorado Springs for the recall effort there. I Am Created Equal donated for Kennedy and it was listed as a non-monetary contribution of like $64,000, or something like that.

If Marcus is right, and he makes a convincing case here that paid signature gatherers are not a factor now, you begin to understand the desperation in the voices of Hudak-recall organizers on the radio this morning.

Journos should clear up conflicting reporting on whether Hudak recall campaign is using paid signature gatherers

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

If you’ve been following the effort to recall State Sen. Evie Hudak, you know that conservative honchos, including the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel and Morse-recall spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns, have expressed skepticism about whether the Hudak recall campaign can collect enough signatures to put the recall measure on the ballot.

The uphill battle to gather signatures would obviously be even steeper without the help of paid signature gatherers from Kennedy Enterprises, which was hired to manage the signature-gathering campaign in the Morse recall effort.

Political journalists should sort out the conflicting reporting over whether Kennedy is involved this time around in the Hudak recall. This is a critical piece of the recall story that shouldn’t dangle in a fog of contradictions.

In  in an article Oct. 28, the Colorado Statesman’s Peter Marcus reported:

Statesman: “Contrary to some reports, McAlpine said his group has not paid a petition-gathering firm. In Colorado Springs, proponents used Kennedy Enterprises.”

Marcus was likely referring to reporting by The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee, who reported Oct. 23:

Post: But sources close to the recalls confirmed Tuesday that McAlpine is using Colorado Springs-based Kennedy Enterprises, the firm that paid volunteers to gather signatures in the Morse recall.

Of course, it’s possible that McAlpine had hired Kennedy Enterprises, but dropped the consulting firm after reading accusations, published in The Post’s story, that Kennedy has not required “background checks of employees” sent door-to-door.

It’s also possible that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners or some other political group allied with McAlpine is the one paying Kennedy to gather signatures.

We don’t know but it’s important for journalists to lay out the facts on the table.

With Boyles’ encouragement, Tancredo says he’s “not sorry” for flipping off protesters

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

On Sunday, ColoradoPols posted a video of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo flipping off protesters gathered in opposition to the recall of State Sen. Evie Hudak.

Tancredo discussed the birdie video on KNUS’ Peter Boyles show Tuesday, and Boyles had the chance to encourage his friend Tancredo to apologize for un-gubernatorial behavior.

Instead, Boyles essentially begged him not to apologize and was quite pleased when Tancredo said bluntly, “No, I am not sorry.”

Tancredo: Really and truly, I mean, I am not happy.

Boyles: Do not say you’re sorry! Do not, Tom.

Tancredo [laughing]:  Happy is what I said.

Boyles: Please don’t say you’re sorry.

Tancredo: No, I am not sorry.

Boyles: Don’t say you’re sorry.

Tancredo: It’s just that these people have been harassing these folks for days now. It’s lucky it didn’t turn into something else, to tell you the truth.

Boyles: That’s good.

Listen to Boyles and Tancredo discuss the flipping-off incident

Later, Tancredo reiterated his non-apology in a great story on Channel 4.

Obviously, Boyles should apologize himself to Tancredo for begging him not to apologize, and then they both should swear off future craziness like this, right?

Good questioning in radio interview raises more doubts about secession

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, who’s been pushing for rural counties to secede from Colorado, admitted in a radio interview last week that “first and foremost” his secessionist campaign aims to let the world know “there’s a problem,” and, aside from secession, he’s got “ideas and suggestions to move this ball forward,” including ideas about how urban and rural leaders  “communicate with each other.” 

But wait! Conway is allegedly so fed up with the State Legislature that he’s ready to walk away from Colorado. How could there possibly be any middle ground left?

That’s what Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, who interviewed Conway Oct. 29, asked him. And here’s Conway’s response:

Conway:  …I have conversations with a lot of folks who much more liberal than I am, come from a different party than I belong to.  And you know what I found?  When you sit down and you actually engage in a dialogue with people, the thing you quickly find out is there are about 80% of the things you can agree upon.   But what happens is, we spend all of our time on the 20% that we disagree on.  And we don’t spend any time on the 80% of the issues that we agree upon.  

Warner:  Sean, you know what surprises me is that you’re someone who believes so strongly in coming to the table, but you’re someone who’s advocating for leaving the table.  I’m trying to square those two things about you.

Warner put it nicely, and gently.

Another way of putting it is, do you really walk away from the table when you agree with your opponents 80 percent of the time? Shit, I don’t even agree with my allies that often. Or my wife.

I don’t agree with myself 80 percent of the time.

For reporters, Conway’s 80-percent statement again raises questions about why he’d lead a fight for secession, which is clearly an extreme move, the nuclear option. It smells overwhelmingly like a media stunt, no? Why doesn’t Conway try harder to get along?

These are questions that should come up tonight as the secession election results are analyzed.

Media omission: Recall leader’s acknowledgement of “slow week” may confirm Kopel’s prediction that Hudak-recall a “tall hill to climb”

Friday, November 1st, 2013

On Channel 12′s “Colorado Inside Out” Friday, , the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel, whose gun connections run deep, said it’s a “tall hill to climb” for the Hudak-recall campaign to collect 19,000 signatures required to trigger a vote on the recall measure.

Today, speaking on KNUS radio, Hudak-recall spokeswoman Laura Waters (appearing with her colleague Mike McAlpine) confirmed Kopel’s prediction, saying that her campaign has been struggling up hill of late.

Waters @32:00: Well, we’ve had a little bit of a slow week, a little bit of weather, a little big of distraction, a little bit of opposition. And so we’re a little bit behind right now in our numbers where we want to be. The rumor mill is floating that we’re turning in our petitions next week. That could not be further from the truth. We’re not ready. We’re not there yet.

Listen McAlpine and Waters on KNUS 11-1-2013

On Channel 12, during the top-rated (by me) public affairs show, “Colorado Inside Out,” Kopel said: “It’s tough because Hudak was elected in a presidential-election cycle year. The minimum number of signatures you need as a fraction of the votes you got is much higher. It’s a tall hill to climb.”

Kopel, whose libertarian Independence Institute opposes Colorado’s new gun-safety laws, said it’s up to Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners to perform the “large feat” of collecting the signatures.

Kopel: “We will see if his organization [Rocky Mountain Gun Owners] has the on-the-ground competence to do large feat of signature gathering,” said Kopel.