Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Media omission: Gardner cites nonexistent entity as backer of his contraception proposal

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

In a post on RhRealityCheck.org today, I reported that a mailer produced by senatorial candidate Cory Gardner refers to the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists” as a backer of his proposal to sell contraception over-the-counter. But this group apparently does not exist.

An organization with a similar name, which Gardner has cited previously, doesn’t support Gardner’s proposal.

The advertisement states:

Supported by the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Cory’s proposal would make oral contraception: Less expensive — about the price of Aspirin; More convenient — helping women obtain The Pill on their own schedule without an appointment; More accessible — ensures women in underserved urban and rural areas have greater ability to obtain The Pill. [BigMedia emphasis]

The RH Reality Check piece states:

A Google search for the “American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists” returns references to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

After seeing the Gardner mailer, Kate Connors, ACOG Director of Media Relations, told RH Reality Check via email, “For all I know, there is an AAOG out there, somewhere, but it has certainly never come to my attention. I dare say that the mailer’s reference to it is an error.”

Connors said that it was also an “error” for Gardner to suggest that “we have supported his proposal.”

A September 9 ACOG statement emphasizes over-the-counter sale of contraception is a long-term goal, not a proposal it supports currently.

Politifact.com, in a September 8 analysis, judged Gardner’s claim about the pill being cheaper if sold over-the-counter as “mostly false,” in light of various uncertainties as well as the fact that, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot charge policy holders a co-pay for preventive health care, including contraception. So, for most women, contraception is currently free.

What’s next for reporters covering Cory Gardner’s personhood hypocrisy?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols tried hard last week to extract an explanation from senatorial candidate Cory Gardner for his decision to withdraw from “personhood” legislation at the state level but, at the same time, to remain a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

So what else could a reporter ask Gardner at this point?

We know he thinks there’s “no federal personhood bill,” because he said it four times to Stokols and once previously to 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman.

So what does Gardner think the bill aims to do? If it’s not personhood, what is it?

Gardner discussed this question at least twice: Factcheck.org reported last month that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the [state and federal] proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Later, contradicting this, Gardner told Rittiman that the “[Life at Conception Act] says life begins at conception.” Gardner’s spokespeople have said the same thing, saying it won’t ban contraception, but they did not mention abortion.

Abortion

Expanding on Factcheck.org’s article, reporters should discuss with Gardner the ramifications of his co-sponsorship of a personhood-style abortion ban. All abortion, even for rape and incest, would be banned. Thus, under the Life at Conception Act, a teenager raped by her father would not have the option of getting an abortion.

Contraception

Gardner has said the Life at Conception Act doesn’t ban contraception. In fact, he told Stokols, “I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that.”

Gardner did not waiver or offer further explanation, even after Stokols told him directly about one of  Factcheck.org’s conclusions: “Gardner says he has changed his mind and no longer supports the Colorado initiative, precisely because it could ban common forms of birth control. But he still backs a federal personhood bill, which contains the same language that would make a ban of some contraception a possibility.”

Reporters who question Gardner should avoid asking him about his position on “contraception” or “birth control” generally, because these words means different things to different people, as you can read here.

Instead, the question is, Does Gardner support specific types of contraception, like Plan B and IUDs. Plan B and IUDs could be banned under the Life at Conception Act because they threaten or destroy fertilized eggs (zygotes), which would gain full legal rights, the same ones you and I have, if the federal personhood bill became law.

In vitro fertilization

Factcheck.org pointed out that personhood measures, like the federal personhood bill, threaten “in vitro fertilization, which often involve creating more than one embryo in an effort to help a woman conceive — the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has been against personhood initiatives.” What’s Gardner’s stance on this issue, given his backing of the Life at Conception Act.

Plenty to ask.

So Stokols’ intense interview with Gardner leaves plenty of questions unanswered, and they go beyond the ones from Stokols that Gardner dodged or refused to answer factually.

You won’t fall asleep during this interview on a local public-affairs TV show

Monday, September 29th, 2014

In an explosive interview broadcast Sunday, Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner told Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols four times that a federal “personhood” bill does not exist, even though Gardner cosponsored such a bill just last year.

But Stokols repeatedly challenged Gardner, first saying, “Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say-Personhood USA says-that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.”

Gardner tried to change the topic, but Stokols would have none of it, interrupting Gardner and saying, “The facts are–”

Gardner quickly interrupted Stokols, and said, “No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill. I think what you’re seeing, Eli, is an effort by Sen. Udall to run away from his record on energy, to run away from his failed record on the economy. Here is a man–”

Stokols told Gardner he’d “grill” Udall next week on his show, but for now, he wanted to know about the federal personhood bill, which aims to ban abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

“The bill that your name is on defines personhood as beginning at the moment of fertilization,” Stokols told Gardner. “Many think it has the potential to ban a number of forms of birth control. Factcheck.org says that you still support a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure that you reject on the same grounds.”

“I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that. I do not support efforts that would ban birth control… Mark Udall is running away from his record and trying to distract the voters with things he would like people believe that simply aren’t true.”

“He’s not the only one who sees the Life at Conception Act as a personhood bill,” Stokols told Gardner. “The sponsors do. Personhood USA does. ..You are sitting here telling me that a bill that everyone says is basically a personhood bill at the federal level, you’re telling me it’s not?”

Sparks flew a while longer, but Gardner got the final utterance before a commercial break.

“There is no federal personhood bill,” Gardner said, never saying what he thinks Life at Conception Act actually is.

Media omission: Would Beauprez sign Gardner’s personhood bill?

Friday, September 26th, 2014

In the wake of this week’s revelation that Bob Beauprez once said he’d sign a bill outlawing abortion in Colorado, even for a 16-year-old who was raped, you have no choice but to ask yourself this bizarre question:

If Beauprez were governor, and Rep. Cory Gardner’s federal persohood bill successfully overturned Roe v. Wade, as it’s intended to do, freeing up the Colorado legislature to send an abortion-ban bill to Beauprez’s desk, would he follow through on his promise to sign it?

Yup, there are numerous hypothetical leaps there, and the leaps are significant, but they are smaller than you might think, and outlawing all abortion, even for rape and incest, is actually factually what both these candidates (Beauprez and Gardner) have pushed for throughout their political careers.

So I’ll quickly explain the steps involved in the question.

First, the federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner last year, would have to clear Congress, which is not so far-fetched when you consider that Republicans could take over the U.S. Senate this year. Then the Supreme Court, whose pro-choice majority is already questionable, would have to overturn Roe, based on the new legislation and other factors. Then, and possibly the biggest hurdle, Colorado Republicans would have to get their act together and take power under the dome. (This is already a reality in numerous other states, where Republican majorities would quickly ban abortion if Garnder’s bill had it’s intended effect.)

Do me a favor and don’t roll your eyes at this blog post, because all you have to do is think of Texas and look at all the places in America where abortion rights are already restricted or threatened. Here’s a great summary. It could even happen in Colorado. This is an issue that matters.

Bottom line: Along with their anti-abortion allies across the country, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner could theoretically work together to ban abortion in Colorado and/or in other states. Gardner could push for the federal legislation allowing Beauprez to sign a state bill making personhood a reality.

Post story misleads readers about Gardner’s 2007 stance on “contraception”

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

In a piece on Colorado’s Senate race today, veteran Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels misleads readers into thinking a 2007 state personhood bill, sponsored by senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, wouldn’t have banned “contraception” when, in fact, the bill would have prohibited the use of common forms of birth control—as well as all abortion, including for rape and incest.

Bartels wrote:

The Udall campaign didn’t mention another part of that bill, an omission that bolsters Gardner’s argument that he’s not opposed to contraceptives. It reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a contraceptive measure. … “

But Bartels didn’t point out that other language elsewhere in Gardner’s bill mandates that contraception would have to be used “prior to the time that pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing.”

The definition of “pregnancy” in the bill is “the human female reproductive condition of having a living unborn human being within her body throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth” [BigMedia emphasis].

So, under Garnder’s bill, some forms of “contraception,” like a condom or diaphragm, are ok, because they unequivocally don’t threaten or destroy fertilized eggs (zygotes) or any fetal stage of pregnancy.

But other forms of contraception, like the copper IUD or some forms of the pill, would not be allowed because they are considered abortifacients by the religious right. They are seen to threaten or destroy fertilized eggs. (In 2007, when the bill was drafted by Gardner, more types of hormonal birth control were widely seen as blocking zygotes from reaching the uterus and causing them, even if they got there, to be unable to implant in the uterine wall.)

Hence Gardner’s 2007 bill was carefully written to ban both abortion and certain forms of abortifacient contraception, while freeing women to use non-abortifacient methods to their hearts’ content.

In 2009, making his position against the use of certain forms of contraception clear, Gardner voted against the Birth Control Protection Act, which simply defined “contraception,” without exceptions, as a medically acceptable drug to prevent pregnancy. And Gardner has a clear record of opposing Plan B, also considered an abortifacient by hardline anti-abortion activists.

The Hobby Lobby decision spotlighted the fact that anti-abortion activists still say they’re in favor of “contraception,” as long as some forms are excluded.

In Bartels’ piece, Personhood USA director Keith Mason said the federal personhood bill, which Gardner cosponsored last year, could be interpreted to ban birth control.

Here’s the entire section of Gardner’s bill referenced by Bartels:

(4) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT THE SALE, USE, PRESCRIPTION, OR ADMINISTRATION OF A CONTRACEPTIVE MEASURE, DEVICE, DRUG, OR CHEMICAL, IF IT IS ADMINISTERED PRIOR TO THE TIME WHEN A PREGNANCY COULD BE DETERMINED THROUGH CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL TESTING AND IF THE CONTRACEPTIVE MEASURE, DEVICE, DRUG, OR CHEMICAL IS SOLD, USED, PRESCRIBED, OR ADMINISTERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH MANUFACTURER INSTRUCTIONS. [BigMedia emphasis]

Here’s the section defining pregnancy and other terms:

(1) “FERTILIZATION” MEANS THAT POINT IN TIME WHEN A MALEHUMAN SPERM PENETRATES THE ZONA PELLUCIDA OF A FEMALE HUMAN OVUM.

(2) “PREGNANT” OR “PREGNANCY” MEANS THE HUMAN FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE CONDITION OF HAVING A LIVING UNBORN HUMAN BEING WITHIN HER BODY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EMBRYONIC AND FETAL AGES OF THE UNBORN CHILD FROM FERTILIZATION TO FULL GESTATION AND CHILDBIRTH. (3) “UNBORN HUMAN BEING” OR “UNBORN CHILD” MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL LIVING MEMBER OF THE SPECIES HOMO SAPIENS, THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EMBRYONIC AND FETAL AGES OF THE UNBORN CHILD FROM FERTILIZATION TO FULL GESTATION AND CHILDBIRTH.

(3) “UNBORN HUMAN BEING” OR “UNBORN CHILD” MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL LIVING MEMBER OF THE SPECIES HOMO SAPIENS, THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EMBRYONIC AND FETAL AGES OF THE UNBORN CHILD FROM FERTILIZATION TO FULL GESTATION AND CHILDBIRTH.

18-6-902. Abortion prohibition. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT KNOWINGLY ADMINISTER TO, PRESCRIBE FOR, PROCURE FOR, OR SELL TO A PREGNANT MOTHER ANY MEDICINE, DRUG, OR OTHER SUBSTANCE WITH THE SPECIFIC INTENT OF CAUSING OR ABETTING THE TERMINATION OF THE LIFE OF AN UNBORN HUMAN BEING. A PERSON SHALL NOT KNOWINGLY USE OR EMPLOY ANY INSTRUMENT OR PROCEDURE UPON A PREGNANT MOTHER WITH THE SPECIFIC INTENT OF CAUSING OR ABETTING THE TERMINATION
OF THE LIFE OF AN UNBORN HUMAN BEING.

Why did Gardner miss his chance to un-endorse fed personhood bill?

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The House of Representatives adjourned at noon today, meaning Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has officially missed his chance to withdraw his name from the Life at Conception Act, a federal personhood bill, prior to the Nov. election.

To uncosponsor the bill, Gardner would have had to make a statement from the House floor, and now the House is out of session until Nov. 12.

In March, Gardner reversed his longstanding support of state personhood amendments.

But in an endlessly puzzling move, the congressman did not also remove his name from the federal personhood bill, saying instead that the federal bill is a toothless symbol–even though numerous fact checkers, like Factcheck.org, think otherwise.

The mystery of why Gardner thinks the Life at Conception Act is symbolic remains unanswered because, well, Gardner won’t answer it, saying stuff like, “There is no federal personhood bill.”

I guess, if you’re a reporter, all you can do is ask the question again and see if a factual explanation emerges.

Media omission: With House adjourning, Gardner faces last chance to withdraw his name from federal personhood bill

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

It’s a big week for senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, as the clock ticks down on his opportunity to withdraw his co-sponsorship from a federal personhood bill, which aims to ban all abortion, even for rape and incest.

To get his name off the legislation, Gardner is required to make a speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is expected to adjourn as early as this week. And it would not meet again prior to the election. So this is Gardner’s last chance.

Fact checkers in Colorado (here and here plus yours truly) and nationally have concluded that the Life at Conception Act, which Gardner cosponsored just last year, is substantive legislation, written and promoted by its sponsors to end a women’s right to choose.

But, inexplicably, both Gardner and his spokespeople, like Owen Loftus,  have told reporters that the bill is symbolic. Most recently, Gardner told 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, “There is no federal personhood bill.” The bill he cosponsored “says life begins at conception,” Gardner told Rittiman. Loftus once said, “The Democrats like to say that it is personhood but it’s not.”

Given these statements by Gardner, who’s challenging pro-choice Democrat Sen. Mark Udall, you wouldn’t expect Gardner to withdraw his name at this point, because he’d have a mouthful of explaining to do–like why he thinks his legislation is symbolic when no one else does.

Reporters should put that question to Gardner regardless of whether he removes his name form the bill in the coming weeks.  Why is he repeating the documented falsehood that the Life at Conception Act is symbolic, given the text of the legislation and the fact checks. With the deadline approaching, now would be a really great time to ask him.

Republican talk-radio host deserves credit for revealing his troubles booking Gardner

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

KNUS radio host Dan Caplis said this morning that during 21 years on air, he’s “never had trouble booking Cory Gardner.”

But he said, “we have had, on a regular basis, trouble booking Cory Gardner for the last three-or-four months,” even though his show has the “friendliest audience you could ever hope for.”

“My concern is whether [the Gardner] campaign, and this is where I get back to tactics, has allowed Cory to be Cory, and whether they’ve had him out there enough. And whether it’s been a play-not-to-lose strategy. That’s my concern, because I think Cory is magnificent. I know even on this show, which is about the friendliest audience you could ever hope for, we have had on a regular basis trouble booking Cory Gardner for the last three or four months. And I’ve been on air 21 years, and I never had trouble booking Cory before.”

Listen to Dan Caplis discuss his troubles booking Gardner for his friendly show.

You gotta give credit to Caplis, who sounds on air like he runs in elite Republican circles, for coming clean with his criticism of Gardner’s media dodge.

Media omission: Personhood ties run deep in Jeffco GOP campaigns

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

I wrote last week about how senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s support for Colorado’s personhood abortion ban was part of his formula for winning the 2010 Republican caucus process, which was a big step to his being elected to Congress.

If you look at the State Senate races in Jefferson County today, you see that the influence of key personhood backers persists, meaning that Cory Gardner would have likely faced the same pressure to embrace personhood positions today as he did then. Gardner, of course, did not run in Jeffco, but similar dynamics play out statewide.

And don’t forget that Jefferson County is the most critical battleground between Democrats and Republicans for control of the state legislature. The swing district could also decide Colorado’s Governor and U.S. Senate races, and the outcome of Colorado’s Senate contest could put the entire U.S. Senate in Democratic or Republican hands.

The latest campaign finance reports reveal that Jeffco Republican candidates Tim Neville (SD-16), Laura Woods (SD-19), and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) all have notorious GOP strategic consultant Jon Hotaling on the payroll via his company, “Liberty Service Corporation.” Liberty Service Corporation was Sanchez’s largest expenditure ($1,750) during the latest campaign-finance-reporting period and the second largest for Woods ($1,000) and Neville ($1,000).

Hotaling’s firm has worked over the years for Rep. Janak Joshi, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and other personhood supporters, most notably for Colorado For Equal Rights, which ran the pro-personhood campaign, fronted by Kristi Burton, in 2008, according to campaign-finance reports. In 2008, Hotaling collected about $12,000 from Colorado For Equal Rights.

So a major consultant for Personhood is deeply integrated into the campaigns of the three Republican senate candidates in Jeffco. Neville, Sanchez, and Woods all support personhood, as defined by Colorado Right to Life, based on their responses to its candidate survey this year.

Using what Republicans themselves called unethical tactics, Woods and Sanchez hammered their Republican primary opponents on the abortion issue during their primary campaigns against Lang Sias and Mario Nicolais.

In one flyer produced by “Colorado for Family Values,” (see link below), Nicolais was pictured next to openly-gay Democrat Pat Steadman and accused of advancing the “radical agenda of gay marriage” by supporting civil unions.

A search for Colorado for Family Values on the Secretary of State’s website returns, “Decommissioning Colorado for Family Values,” which was previously called “Colorado for Family Values.” Its agent is Mark Hotaling, Jon’s brother. No expenditures are listed, apparently indicating a campaign-finance violation, like the one that prompted a complaint Tuesday by Colorado Ethics Watch against Colorado Campaign for Life and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The bulk mail permit (#255) used for 2014 mailers against Sias by the Christian Coalition of Colorado, a staunch anti-abortion group previously directed by both Jon and his brother Mark Hotaling, is identical to the bulk mail permit number used by Colorado for Family Values for Gosnell mailers against Nicolais.

(Click here to see the Christian Coalition of Colorado mailer using bulk permit #255 and the Colorado for Family Values mailer using bulk permit #255.)

pile of accusations point to Hotaling as using similar mailers and messaging to destroy his past opponents, Republicans or Democrats.

For example, Hotaling was accused of orchestrating dirty tricks in support of Rep. Doug Lamborn’s primary victory in 2006 over talk-show host Jeff Crank and CO Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera. In that race, a mailer linked to Hotaling and his brother accused the ultra-conservative Crank and Rivera, of supporting the “homosexual agenda.” And you can imagine how that was received by Colorado Springs Republicans. On his KVOR radio show, Crank still talks bitterly about the race.

The mailed advertisement against Crank came from the Christian Coalition of Colorado, directed at the time by Jon Hotaling’s brother Mark, who’d just taken over the organization from brother Jon, who’d left to run Lamborn’s campaign.

Hotaling, who was once Marilyn Musgrave’s campaign manager, has been investigated by the Federal Election Commission (See graphic on page 9.).

I didn’t receive a response to phone and/or email messages offering Jon and Mark Hotaling, Sanchez, Woods, and Neville a chance to respond to the issues raised in this blog post.

I’m not saying all personhood backers are anything like Jon Hotaling.

My point in this short blog post, and there’s more where this came from, is that the personhood pressure, in its various forms, faced by Gardner as he worked his way to power, is still very much alive within Colorado’s GOP, even in Jeffco, one of the entire country’s most critical swing counties.

This post was updated 9/13/2014

9News Rittiman does journalism proud by asking key questions of both Gardner and Udall

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman got one-on-one interviews with both senatorial candidates last week, and the questions he chose to ask Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, should earn him the respect of conservatives and progressives.

One of Rittiman’s questions for Gardner has been consistently overlooked by Denver journalists:

Rittiman: How do you square your recent change on personhood at the state level with the bill that you still are on in Congress. The life begins at conception act?

Gardner: Well, there is no federal personhood bill. They’re two different pieces of legislation, two different things.

Rittman followed up by pointing out that other co-sponsors of the bill say it it is federal personhood, and asking, “But it’s still a piece of legislation that says abortion ought to be illegal, no?”

Gardner: No. It says life begins at conception. Look, Sen. Mark Udall is trying to say that it’s something that it’s not.

Rather than letting Gardner’s false statement slide, Rittiman reported:

Rittiman: At the very least, the bill is meant to set up a legal challenge to a woman’s right to choose. [Factcheck.org supports Rittiman's reporting here.]

Rittman also brought up the subject of Gardner’s failed healthcare plan, reporting: “9NEWS asked a few times for Gardner to share the details of his canceled healthcare plan, which he has used as an issue in the campaign.”

Rittiman: You don’t want to discuss the details of your old plan?

Gardner: “Well, look. This is about a promise that Mark Udall made. About being able to choose the health insurance that they liked for their family. Mark Udall didn’t tell people that if you had this policy or that policy you might be able to keep this but not that. Mark Udall promised if you like your plan you could keep your plan. He broke that promise.”

Rittiman should have explained to his audience that details of Gardner’s plan are important because Gardner has ranted about how much more money he had to pay for insurance under Obamacare, which covers pre-existing conditions and preventative care, among other benefits.

If Gardner’s old plan was bare-bones, or if it had a giant deductible that would make it too risky for average voters, then his complaint about the increased cost of his Obamacare insurance starts to smell rotten. As it is, the smell of his answer to Rittiman is pretty bad and deserves more scrutiny by journalists. Why won’t Gardner release details of his old plan?

As for Udall, Rittiman asked the question that comes up most frequently on conservative talk radio:

Rittiman: Frankly, does Colorado deserve for this campaign to be about more than just about abortion?

Udall: My campaign is about contrasts and comparisons. An election is a choice…. It’s my responsibility to bring that to the attention of Colorado voters, and I will continue to do so, but I will also talk about all the other things that I’ve accomplished.

Rittiman followed up twice by asking Udall about fracking, “They didn’t hear you saying specifically where you think the policy on oil and gas should go. Do you think that local governments ought to have the power to full on regulate it, or is it just about giving them meaningful input?”

Udall: Look, I’m gonna let governments speak from their point of view, but I think there’s a sweet spot there. You definitely want meaningful involvement, you want meaningful input. And again, there may be places where the local community decides that the use of that land is better directed at a park or a wildlife refuge or subdivisions, versus drilling for natural gas. I think there’s broad support for that, including in the industry.

Rittiman reported that Udall “opposed the now-dead ballot questions to restrict oil and gas operations, but still gets support from the environmental lobby.”