Archive for the 'Colorado Statesman' Category

GOP State Chair race could have used a few more Ernest Lunings

Friday, March 13th, 2015

UPDATE: Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols offers an excellent closing analysis of the race here: “GOP Chairman Ryan Call facing revolt led by AG Cynthia Coffman.”

——

One thing is clear in the home stretch of the battle between Ryan Call and Steve House to be the next leader of Colorado’s Republican Party.

The race could have used a few more reporters like the Colorado Statesman‘s Ernest Luning covering it. As it is, “coverage” of the race has mostly been left to a bizarre and sometimes toxic shooting gallery of talk radio, Facebook, more Facebook, progressive bloggers (including outcasts like me), and whisperers and more whisperers. Honestly, this situation, set against a backdrop of intense GOP anger and madness, doesn’t serve Republicans or the rest of us.

The candidates have spoken directly to lots of the Republican activists who will be voting Saturday, which is good, but the race for Republican chair is an excellent example of what won’t be covered at all by real journalists as the profession fades. And we all lose from that.

Luning has provided the most even-handed and in-depth coverage of the Republican leadership race, and he’s out with a new story yesterday that included new allegations against Steve House, who’s challenging Ryan Call. Luning reports:

A group of former Adams County Republican officers circulated a letter on Wednesday slamming House for his tenure leading the county party and calling his character into question.

The letter, signed by former county chairs Patty McCoy and Clark Bolser, former vice chair Patty Sue Femrite and county finance chair Maria del Carman Guzman-Weese, alleged that House quit the post half way through his term in order to run for governor after promising he wouldn’t do just that. What’s more, the Adams County group charged, he left the county GOP in a shambles and it was Call who came to the rescue to rebuild it.

“Steve definitely has charisma and personal ambition, and he certainly knows how to give a good speech,” the group wrote. “He’s personally likeable. But his record of unfulfilled commitments, multiple broken promises, and overall poor performance as County Chairman left many of us in Adams County disappointed, extremely frustrated, and with unwelcome extra work during a critical time.”

Steve House spokesman Mike McAlpine denied the accusation, telling Luning it was dirty politics and, in fact, Adams County Republicans actually helped flip the Colorado Senate in 2014.

In any case, in addition to his reporting this flap, Luning nicely summarizes the House-Call contest as we head into Saturday morning, when the final vote will occur at Douglas County High School in Castle Rock.

 

Former GOP state rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that’s loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed  a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright,  former state representative from Mesa County.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.

Jason Salzman: I was glad to read that Judy Hope Strogoff thinks that you’re “aptly qualified” to run the Statesman. But, still, you’re obviously known as a partisan Republican, albeit with a libertarian streak. Will you assure readers of the Statesman that you’ll try, as publisher, to be fair to all sides, and why should we believe you?

Jaered Wright: Thanks for your questions, Jason. First, just as a point of clarification, The Statesman’s long-time publisher’s name is Jody Hope Strogoff. [Jason Salzman: I've made the same mistake before, and I regret the error.]  I have a deep respect for Jody’s long-time dedication and contributions to The Statesman and Colorado political reportage in general. Jody is not going away and will continue to be a mentor to me, a contributor to the newspaper and certainly an asset to this institution.

Yes, readers can be assured that I will strive to be fair. When I was an elected representative, my job was to represent the people of my district – a largely conservative district at that. My role has now changed significantly. Now, my duty is to deliver objective, balanced and complete news reporting to the people of this state, something The Statesman is known for as an institution, and something I take very seriously. For proof, keep reading The Statesman and you will see it within our pages.

Also take a look back at some of my political cartoons. In my artwork, you will see I don’t pull punches from either side of the political aisle editorially.

As publisher, I have full respect for the divide that must exist between the business side of the publication and its editorial department.

Having been on the other side of the microphone as an elected official, I know what objective reporting looks like. I also know what biased, agenda-driven reporting looks like. The former is what we must strive for. It is vital for a free society.

Salzman: Many were way surprised that you got the publisher job. Do you want to explain how it came to pass that you were named publisher?

Wright: I was surprised too! Sometimes life delivers unforeseen opportunities, and this was one I could not pass up. I have always been an avid reader of newspapers and an ardent consumer of political media in general, so I count this chance to contribute directly in the field of journalism an exciting opportunity, and one that I take very seriously.

Salzman: What are your plans, on the editorial side, for the newspaper? Do you have a vision for the Statesman beyond what we’ve seen in recent years?

Wright: My two biggest goals for our editorial department are modernization and growth. The Statesman is truly an institution in this state – it’s been around since 1898. My vision for the newspaper is to carry forward its history of fair, objective and unique, insider-oriented Colorado political reporting while also rejuvenating it to better serve modern news consumers – people who are busy professionals reading their news on their smartphones while taking RTD into work, reading a quick story on their laptop on lunch hour, catching up on the latest chatter under the gold dome while at their kid’s soccer match, etc. Providing this distinctive, high-quality news content to a growing, diverse and sophisticated audience throughout Colorado is the focal point of my vision for The Statesman

Salzman: Do you plan to make the newspaper more web-friendly?

Wright: Yes, as you know, a simple, robust, well-designed website is absolutely key to media success in the 21st century.

Salzman: What political publications and political reporters do you admire?

Wright: In feel lucky to be working now for a publication where our lead reporter also happens to be one of my longtime favorites. Ernest Luning is a very talented reporter with investigative acumen – well connected, fair, and a tremendous writer. I’ve read his stories in The Statesman for years now, and he does a great job.

Salzman: Sources tell me that the loss of legal ads have put the Statesman’s future in jeopardy. Is it true that the newspaper is on shaky financial ground and, if so, do you have any specific plans to solidify things?

Wright: It’s no secret that the print industry has been in the midst of some turbulence and will continue to face challenging times ahead – no matter what the publication – but I also see big opportunities within grasp so long as we have positioned ourselves on the cusp of the wave. Being quick on our feet and adaptive to technological changes and trending methods of media consumption will be vital.

Salzman: Sources tell me that Larry Mizel almost certainly owns a majority share of the newspaper. Can you tell me if this is true?

Wright: As with many other well-known, privately owned publications and media conglomerates across the country – many of which deliver premium, award-winning news content – it is not our policy to give out the names of our investors.

Salzman: Any other comments?

Wright: Yeah, yeah – I know. I’m the guy that made the stupid mistake at the Capitol. I’m not perfect. [Jason Salzman note:  Wright is best known for leaving a loaded gun in a House committee room.] I’ve screwed up a time or two in my life. And when I do, I admit it, fix it, learn from it and move on. The future of The Colorado Statesman is very important to me. I only look back to learn from my missteps. Otherwise, I’m looking 100% forward.

Salzman: Thanks again

Wright: Thanks for your contributions to Colorado’s media landscape, Jason, and for participating in what is clearly not always an easy or profitable career. I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you.

Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare nnninconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?

Media omission: Battle over Colorado Republican Party leadership looms

Monday, January 12th, 2015

On KLZ 560-AM’s “Wake Up with Randy Corporon” Friday, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve House officially announced his bid to dislodge Ryan Call from his job as Chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

“My phone rings all the way until 10 o’clock at night with people calling me the last three or four days, saying ‘I’m glad you’re going to do it. It is time for a change,’” announced House, whose intention to run against Ryan Call was reported by the Colorado Statesman last week.

Call has weathered a barrage of criticism over his two terms as state chair, mostly from the “liberty” or “Tea-Party” wing of the state GOP for not doing enough to support “grassroots” Republicans.

In November 2013, for example, now State Senator Laura Woods, who was using the name “Laura Waters,” blasted Ryan Call for obstructing the recall effort against Democratic State Sen. Evie Hudak.

On KNUS Peter Boyles’ radio show at the time, Woods, who was organizing the Hudak recall effort, indicated she hadn’t voted for Call as GOP chair, and she said that, thanks to Ryan Call, “at certain doors and in certain phone calls, we’re even fighting against our own party.”

This year, Woods, with heavy support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and despite opposition from committees like Protect and Defend Colorado, squeaked by Republican Lang Sias in the GOP primary. She went on to narrowly Democrat incumbent Rachel Zenzinger to take the Westminster State Senate seat, which Woods has to defend again next year, making it a key battleground for control of the Colorado Senate.

The GOP central committee is scheduled to vote on the Call-House contest March 7, but this may change to accommodate the schedules of Republican congressional representatives, House said on air. Call is running with Vice Chair Mark Baisley.

On KLZ, House emphasized the need to help Republican County Chairs respond to the on-the-ground needs of candidates immediately, without obstruction–and with adequate resources.

“Every single county in this state, and there are some that do a great job, needs to better funded, more stable, more capable of training and recruiting candidates so we can win races,” said House on air, adding that Ryan Call has improved things a bit but not enough. “We’re not going to win races from the top down.” He added he will not take a salary.

And, music to the ears of talk-radio hosts like “Righty” Corporon, House offered to set up a regular time to be on KLZ radio and elsewhere to take phone calls and discuss issues.

“Office hours with the chairman will be a big thing for me,” said House, promising to make himself available in multiple venues and platforms to interact with Republicans.

Radio-host Corporon told listeners that Ryan Call has refused to go on his radio show, despite promises to do so.

“I’m blessed in part because I live in a country that has a constitution that is a framework for a just society in my opinion,” House told Corporon. “We don’t adhere to it the way I really want to adhere to it. But it gave me opportunity. So if you start to see that under threat, if you see that this state may not live under conservative principles, constitutional principles, capitalism, you have to get involved to defend the lifestyle you’ve been given.”

Pueblo GOP County Chair called in and endorsed House, because, she said, he believes in “bottom-up, not top-down, management.” House also appears to have the support of  State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

 

Some details on how Gardner “built his entire political career on support of personhood”

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Back in July, Cosmo’s Ada Calhoun quoted Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, as saying:

Mason: “[Cory Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood. I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.”

Calhoun didn’t get into the details of how and why Gardner relied on personhood to advance himself in politics, so I’ll hit on it briefly now, not only because it gives you insight into Gardner but, in the bigger picture, the anti-abortion movement’s lock on Republican candidates as they move through caucus and primary processes in Colorado.

From the time he was elected to the State Legislature, Gardner clearly made his anti-abortion stance a priority, sponsoring state personhood legislation, in 2007, defining life as beginning at conception and outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

In 2008, Gardner stood with other Colorado legislators in support of Colorado’s first personhood ballot measure, earning a shout out from Kristi Burton, the mother of our state’s personhood movement.

When she helped launch the 2012 personhood measure, which didn’t make the ballot, Burton praised Gardner as “very supportive” and “one of our main supporters” of personhood campaigns.

Gardner’s deep support from anti-abortion activists paid off when he launched his first congressional campaign against a tough field of candidates, including Tom Lucero, the former CU regent.

At a Tea Party event in November of 2009, Gardner was asked if he’d carry legislation to end the “practice” of abortion:

Gardner: “Yes, and I have a legislative background to back it up.”

The applause you hear in the video is a clue to how important the abortion issue is to the activists in attendance. You can imagine the reaction of any if the three candidates present had offered anything but a full-throttle acceptance of banning abortion.

Later, in 2010, Gardner touted his personhood chops at one Republican congressional candidate forum, where he infamously said the following. (Again, note the round of applause.):

Gardner: “I have signed the personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church, and circulating into my church. And I have a legislative record that backs up my support for life.”

All his trumpeting of his personhood stance set Gardner up perfectly to win the votes of pro-life delegates at the 2010 GOP district convention, where the congressional nominee is selected.

Indeed, as reported by the Colorado Statesman in May of 2010, Gardner “stormed the 4th Congressional District GOP assembly last Friday — winning 60 percent of the delegate vote and shutting out University of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero and businessman Dean Madere, the two other Republican contenders.”

Leslie Jorgensen, covering the assembly for the Statesman, reported a detail that brings us back to the exact point personhood’s Keith Mason made about Gardner building his “career on support of personhood.”

Jorgensen reported:

Christian Family Alliance of Colorado distributed a flyer to delegates that reported the three candidates’ positions on several conservative issues that included public funded abortions, the personhood ballot initiative, gay rights, and posting the 10 Commandments in public buildings. Gardner scored perfect responses, Lucero missed the mark on two issues, and Madere had “refused to respond.” [BigMedia emphasis.]

This (as well as the rest of this blog post above) obviously isn’t proof that Gardner owes his political career solely to his support of personhood, but it’s clear enough that personhood was one of the foundational building blocks of his climb to Congress, proving Keith Mason correct and shedding light on the short-term gain GOP candidates encounter by joining with anti-abortion activists. And the long-term pain they encounter if they seek state-wide office in Colorado and are forced to defend their positions.

Beauprez’s clarified comments are still in need of clarification

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

In case you missed it, here’s gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s response to criticism of his comments on the radio that states should enforce immigration law, if the feds don’t do it, “as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona.”

Radio hosts failed to ask Beauprez for details, but Beauprez told former Colorado Statesman reporter Peter Marcus July 14 that his comments were misrepresented by the “radical left.”

“It wasn’t as much about Jan Brewer’s policy as much as Jan Brewer was standing up for her citizens and saying if the federal government’s not going to protect them, somebody needs to,” explained Beauprez. “That was the point.”

As for the comments about blocking busloads of undocumented children if they are transported to Colorado, Beauprez said he was simply repeating comments he had heard.

“That was passed on because somebody in Pueblo told me that that would happen,” clarified the gubernatorial candidate. “That wasn’t me saying it. I said I had heard that from people in Pueblo.

“And that’s the kind of concern, that’s why this president needs to get his arms around this,” Beauprez continued. “You’ve got a volatile society and people are looking for leaders that are willing to address reality. You may not like reality, but you’d better deal with it.

“This didn’t just happen,” he added. “[Texas Gov.] Rick Perry sent the president a letter two years ago that said you’d better get on top of this, and he ignored it. Actions have consequences.”

What I don’t see here is Beauprez saying he disagrees with Jan Brewer’s law, later found to be unconstitutional, to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. I also don’t see him saying he wouldn’t join in blocking buses with migrant children, if they were sent to Colorado. More clarification is needed.

Peter Marcus to replace Joe Hanel at the Durango Herald

Monday, July 21st, 2014

I had convinced myself, based on nothing except the rip tide that’s pulling political reporters out of Colorado, that The Durango Herald wouldn’t replace its Denver correspondent, Joe Hanel, who left in May after rising to become one best political journalists in the state.

But I was wrong. The Herald has hired Peter Marcus, who left The Colorado StatesmanFriday, to replace

Hanel as its Denver Correspondent. Asked what he’ll be covering, Marcus said via email:

Marcus: “As much as I’d love to be working in Durango — that town is so amazing — I’ll actually be stationed out of the Capitol, holding down the bureau. It’s really critical that southwest Colorado have a link to the happenings in Denver. They don’t get Colorado news down there. The broadcasts are out of Albuquerque, but the people don’t relate to New Mexico. They’re Coloradans. So, it’s crucial that they have a link to the news and happenings coming out of Denver, because the decisions that happen in the Mile High City greatly impact their lives, and they should be able to have a say in what’s going on. During the legislative session, I’ll be mostly covering the legislature for the Herald. More immediately, I’m going to be jumping right into campaign season. It’s not going to be much of a jump for me. That’s been part of my beat at The Statesman. But I’ll also take a close look at the courts and the state boards — especially mining, water and oil and gas — because actions by those authorities are of great importance to our readership.”

I asked Marcus, who starts at the Heraldtoday, about the journalism road that led him to his new job:

Marcus: “It was a bit sad saying goodbye to the Statesman on Friday. That paper really came through for me at a clutch time, when I was seriously considering getting out of journalism. I was the assistant editor over at the Denver Daily News, it was around July 2011, and the paper just suddenly shut down. It literally just shut down in a second. I was out interviewing a Denver city employee for an investigation I was working on, and my phone went off, and it was a text from my editor saying, “Don’t worry about coming back to the office, the paper just folded.” It was shocking, to say the least.

After that, I was sort of losing faith in the industry a little bit. I still had the bug for journalism, but there just weren’t too many options available to me at that time. That’s when I started freelancing for The Statesman. Jody Strogoff, the editor, she saw something in me and allowed me to take on a few assignments for her. I had been covering the statehouse for the Denver Daily News, but it certainly wasn’t my primary beat, so Jody sort of took a risk on me. I started covering the reapportionment hearings at the time. That was a pretty big deal to The Statesman, given the paper’s legislative focus. Reapportionment can be a tough subject to just sort of dive into, but I got it done, and I think Jody started feeling a bit more comfortable. Soon I was a staff writer for the paper, primarily focused on the state legislature.

Where it all got started for me was at the Longmont Times-Call. I was an intern there for a while in 2005 right after graduating from Ithaca College where I majored in journalism. I sort of just packed up my car in New York and moved to Colorado. I had a tight crew of friends moving out here, but I didn’t have a job or anything like that. But then I landed the Times-Call gig and that’s where I really got addicted to this thing. It’s funny, I ran into Trevor Hughes at the Capitol the other day. Trevor was at the Times-Call when I was there. He now works for USA Today. Anyway, Trevor took me out on my first breaking news assignment. It was a bank robbery in Longmont. When I saw him, it all came back to me. I guess some of us just can’t say goodbye to being newsmen.”

I also asked Marcus how it felt to be replacing the widely respected Joe Hanel.

Marcus: I can’t begin to explain to you how big of a deal it is that I’m replacing Hanel. His legacy over at the Capitol could possibly be eternal. Hanel held down the Herald’s bureau position with pride, class and professionalism. He really set the bar. As I’ve been telling people that I’m moving over to the Herald, their responses have usually been, ‘Wow, those are some big shoes to fill.’ Indeed. If I come anywhere close to filling Joe’s shoes, I’ll feel like I have done my job. He gave me some good advice after I told him I got the gig. Hanel goes, ‘Just don’t fuck it up.’

I told Marcus that his fans at The Statesman will undoubtedly miss him. Here’s his response:

Marcus: I’m going to miss The Statesman very much. Beyond just allowing me to stay in the game so that I could move on to other opportunities, it’s been a real home for me. The stories are definitely on the long side, and they’re catered for the truly wonky political crowd. But there was something really fantastic about being able to delve into subjects with such complexity and detail. The Statesman is a true institution in the Colorado political world, and it was an honor to represent them over the past few years. They haven’t filled my old position yet, but I understand that there have been some interested and qualified candidates expressing interest.

Multiple news outlets erred in 2010 when they reported on GOP primary-ballot-access rules

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez can try to get on the GOP primary ballot through both petitions and the assembly, despite news reports in 2010 stating that Republican candidates could not pursue both routes simultaneously.

Ditto for Beauprez opponents Tom Tancredo and Owen Hill, who are trying both the assembly and petition avenues.

“Access to the Republican primary ballot by political party assembly or by nominating petitions signed by a sufficient number of registered party members are not mutually exclusive,” GOP Chair Ryan Call emailed me, in response to my request to clarify the rules. “Whether a candidate seeks access to our Republican primary ballot by assembly, by petition, or by both methods, all routes are legal, legitimate, and permissible under state law and the rules of the Colorado Republican Party.”

Media stories produced during the 2010 election, cited below, stated, apparently incorrectly, that a GOP candidate had to choose between the assembly process and the petition route.

When he joined the governor’s race Monday, Beauprez first told reporters he’d petition onto the Republican primary ballot. Then he told KHOW talk-show host Mandy Connell that he might also try to get on the ballot through the vote of Republican activists attending the party’s assembly April 10.

When Jane Norton ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 and bypassed the GOP assembly, she was not allowed to speak at the event. Beauprez could face a similar ban if he decides against submitting his name for nomination at the assembly.

News articles at the time do not cite sources for their assertions that GOP rules forbid candidates from using multiple avenues to get on the primary ballot.

The Pueblo Chieftain, from April 14, 2010, reported:

Under Republican rules, candidates either go to the convention to win a place on a primary ballot or use petition drives, but not both.

A 2010 Grand Junction Sentinel article, referenced in ColoradoPols post states:

…Democratic Party rules allow candidates to go both routes at the same time. Only the Republican Party requires its candidates to choose one over the other.

The Colorado Statesman had the same information:

Party rules allowed Bennet to field a petition while still pursuing nomination through the assembly process, unlike rules forbidding both methods on the Republican side.

Call stated in his email to me:

Call: Ultimately, the choice of who becomes our Republican nominee and candidate for any race will be made by our grassroots Republican voters and by all voters who wish to join our party in order to have their voice heard in our primary process. Interested citizens may register to vote and declare or update their party affiliation by visiting www.govotecolorado.com.

We invite all who share our concerns about the erosion of individual rights and opportunity, who recognize the failures of leadership by Gov. Hickenlooper and Sen. Udall, and who disagree with the hurtful policies and broken promises of the Democrats in Washington and in this state, to join us in voting Republican this year to get Colorado and our nation back on the right course.

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.

——————

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.