Archive for the 'Grand Junction Sentinel' Category

Delta County Republicans say hacker is responsible for racist Facebook meme, contradicting GOP chair, who’d acknowledged posting it

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

In the wake of a Republican U.S. Senate candidate’s denunciation of a racist Facebook meme shared on the personal Facebook page of GOP County Chair Linda Sorenson, Delta County Republicans are saying a hacker is responsible for the post , contradicting Sorenson, who has taken responsibility for it last week.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Duffy Hayes reports:

“This whole thing is a hoax. Someone got into the Facebook somehow,” said Vic Ullrey, vice chairman of the committee. “It was hacked and somebody got into it, definitely.”

When asked why Sorenson was the specific target of the alleged hacking — possibly a federal crime, if true — Ullrey said, “I have no idea,” later adding, “Just to damage the Republican Party, no doubt. … Just to make us look bad,”

Sue Whittlesey, DCRCC treasurer, said, “That whole thing is bogus. Somebody hacked Linda Sorenson’s Facebook page, and posted that out there.”

“We believe it has something to do with (conservative-media watchdog) Media Matters. They’ve been harassing her the last few weeks,” Whittlesey said.

Trouble is, Sorenson told me directly, as I blogged last week, that she posted the meme as a joke and that she didn’t care if people found it offensive.

One person who found it offensive was GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham, who tweeted,”Republicans have legitimate differences with the president but this is absolutely unacceptable.”

As for Sorenson, here’s what she had to say when I callled to confirm that the post, which compared Obama to a chimpanzee, was hers:

I described the chimp post to Sorenson and asked if it was meant to be a joke.

She said, “Sure it is, Jesus.”

I said,”Yeah. Can you understand how people would be offended by it? Or do you care if people are offended by it?”

She replied, “I really don’t care if people are offended by it.

I said, “Right.”

She continued, “Un-friend me. Stop looking at me on Facebook.”

Then she hung up on me.

Listen here, as recorded on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

Sorenson didn’t return a call from Duffy, who sought “to explain the discrepancy” between Sorenson’s conversation with me and the claims by her Delta County Republican colleagues who said her personal site was hacked.


Eight great stories on the Colorado legislative session

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite reporting about Colorado’s legislative session that ended Wednesday.

My favorite: The Denver Post’s John Frank wrote an accessible yet detail-rich article on the failed effort to secure funding for a wildly successful teen-pregnancy-prevention program. Read it here: IUD Jewelry Emerges at Colorado Capitol to Demystify and Educate on Birth Control

The Post’s Joey Bunch and John Frank teamed up to show how middle class reality connects to the legislature. Read it here: Fear and Worry in Colorado’s Middle Class Lures Politicos.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby provided a cool look at the flaming arrows launched at Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow. Read it here: Thurlow Defends Record

Colorado Public Radio reporter Megan Verlee’ provides an outside-the-Capitol perspective on the teen-pregnancy issue. Listen here: For Colorado Teen Moms, There’s Help but Daunting Statistic

Colorado Public Radio’s Verlee demystified the complicated debate about the Earned Income Tax Credit. Listen here: 5 Things to Know about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a Proven Poverty Reliever.

Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels explained how a bill offering help for the middle class was killed over one lawmaker’s concern that his rich constituents wouldn’t like it. Read it here: Upper Class Protected During Debate about Saving for College. 

Great in-depth reporting by the National Journal’s Nora Kaplan-Bricker about Colorado’s latest birth-control battle and teen pregnancy program. Read it here: The Big Battle Over a Little Device.

And finally, I can’t resist adding the Aurora Sentinel’s outstanding editorial on the failed teen-pregnancy prevention measure. (Sorry for the repeated citations of coverage of this legislation, but it generated the most inspired reporting.) Read it here: The birth of ignorance; get science right before voting on teen pregnancy bill.

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama’s program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama’s  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren’t exactly identical, but they’re close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can’t find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated Press, Durango Herald, Fox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner’s self-serving statement saying, in part, that “we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system.”

It’s possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn’t report this. If so, they should have.

But it’s not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you’re a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what’s done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM’s new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his “campaign talk” about making birth control pills available over the counter “can translate into legislative action.”

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindahl first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I’d have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner’s plan on immigration. If he’s against deferring deportations, then what’s he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I’m hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

A never-ending news story for good reason: McInnis regrets apologizing for plagiarism

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Fortunately for someone like me, who will never get enough of the 2010 election cycle, failed gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis will never stop talking about it.

A great article today in the Grand Junction Sentinel states that McInnis has a big regret about how he handled the plagiarism scandal that torpedoed his gubernatorial campaign: apologizing for it, since he says he did nothing wrong at all.

McInnis, who’s running for a Mesa County Commissioner, told the Sentinel he “should have dug [his] heels in” and “brought up more about the Hasan family.”

The Sentinel’s Emily Shockley reports:

“I didn’t plagiarize, period,” [McInnis] said. But, at the behest of political advisers, he did make apologies for the situation ever happening. That situation involved a researcher ghost-writing the articles in question, which turned out to have several sections lifted from an old work by current Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr.

“I would have dug my heels in and I would have brought up more about the Hasan family,” McInnis said.

“I’ve used ghost writers my whole career. I would have said I didn’t make the mistake. I wasn’t dishonest then and I’m not dishonest now.”

If he’d done that, maybe we’d have heard more from McInnis’ ghost writer, Rolly Fischer, who spoke so eloquently to Channel 7’s John Ferrugia at the time, before he went into hiding.

If McInnis had thrown his researcher even deeper under the bus, and dug in deeper, it would have made an already great news story even better.

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

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.

Reporter exposes lawmaker for manufacturing a phony war on rural Colorado

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby deserves credit for correcting one of his local lawmakers who claimed a bill mandating a higher renewable energy standard would devastate his constituents when, in fact, it wouldn’t affect them at all.

On Channel 6’s Colorado State of Mind Friday, Ashby told the story of how SB 252, which would increase the renewable energy standard on large Rural Electric Associations, was cited by Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) as evidence of a war on rural Colorado, even though one of Grand Junction’s REAs supported the increased standard, and the other local REA gets power from Xcel Energy, which isn’t affected by the legislation, which awaits Gov. Hick’s signature.

Ashby: “We already have a 20 percent standard for utilities like Excel. In ’08, I think it was, they imposed a 10 percent standard on the REAs. Then [this session] they wanted to up it to 25 percent, and they ended up doing 20 percent. And that became the ‘war on rural Colorado.’ It’s going to raise rates. It was almost funny because one of my local lawmakers, for example, from Grand Junction, got up there, and he said, this is going to put people out of their houses. Businesses are gong to close. And what’s funny, in Grand Junction, for example, the major REA gets its power from Xcel, so therefore not affected by this bill. The other REA in his district actually passed a resolution in support of raising the standards. So it was more politics than it was policy.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Ashby originally called out Wright in an April 26 Sentinel story.

I think some journalists see fact checking as boring, but I agree with Ashby that it’s fun to point out the misinformation, even if, at least theoretically, it’s part of the blocking-and-tackling grind of journalism.

Once unconcerned, Tipton now sounding the alarm about economic consequences of not raising the debt limit

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Along with throwing his support behind House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt ceiling, Colorado’s freshman Congressman Scott Tipton changed his tune yesterday about the economic consequences not taking action.

Yesterday, Tipton sounded extremely worried about the economic impacts of not raising the debt limit, but two days previously not so much.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reported today:

“I don’t think I can overstate” the economic dislocation that would take place if the debt limit isn’t increased, Tipton said.

A reduction in the nation’s credit rating would affect all Americans because no individual can have a higher credit rating than the nation. Mortgage, credit-card rates and other forms of borrowing would immediately become more expensive, he said. 

Contrast this with what Tipton told the Durango Herald Tuesday:

Tipton, however, argued that Obama overstated the consequences and that enough revenue would be coming in so that most of the United States’ bills, including to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, would be paid. “We do have the ability to meet those obligations,” he said.

Tipton also told KVOR-AM 760’s Jeff Crank July 16 that the U.S. could meet its financial obligations, even if the debt limit was not raised. Listen to the audio here.

Crank: Let’s hope we can hold the line much like was done on health care, where really every Republican stayed firm and solid on that point and that we don’t have people getting nervous. This President and the media is very complicit in this, trying to equate a vote on the debt limit increase to the defaulting—the US government defaulting. Those are two very different things and we need, I think as conservatives to do a better job at education that those are different things. Just because the debt limit isn’t raised does not mean that the United States government automatically defaults on its obligations.

 TiptonNo it doesn’t. The revenue that’s going to be coming in just over the balance of this month not only has the ability to cover the other areas we talked about just earlier but also be able to pay all of our interest payments as well. We have numerous economists, and I think maybe the most telling thing that ought to drive a lot of our decisions finally came out of S & P and Moody’s, the rating organizations. It isn’t a matter of just increasing the debt ceiling. They say that there has to be real reform, cuts up to $4 trillion, so that they can give a AAA credit rating to the United States. They understand, finally, at these credit rating agencies that if we don’t get our fiscal house in order we are in the pathway of Greece.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but Tipton appears to be the only Member of Congress who’s flipped his views on if extending the debt limit matters, and reporters should find out what changed his mind on this.

McInnis cleared of dishonest lawyer conduct, but slimy, mean politician conduct still a problem

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Back in November, Scott McInnis told The Denver Post that he’d clear his name within a few short months. It wasn’t clear what he meant, but you had to assume something would show that he didn’t deserve the harsh treatment he got as he ran for governor in the last election.

He couldn’t show that he really did not commit plagiarism, could he? I mean, the exact words in McInnis’ water articles, written for the Hasan Family Foundation for $300,000, were lifted from another writer’s work. This was clear and irrefutable, right?

McInnis couldn’t blame the media? Or Dick Wadhams? Or even The Tea Party.

What could clear his name?

I waited impatiently, and no name-clearing happened. I was getting real desperate to know WTF was in McInnis’ mind, and today rolled around.

It turns out that an attorney connected to the Colorado Supreme Court conducted an investigation, at the behest of Colorado Ethics Watch, on whether McInnis’ behavior meets the lawyerly snuff test.

His investigation, indeed, cleans up McInnis a bit, but it doesn’t clear his name, unless you believe throwing people under buses is a good idea.

John Gleason, who conducted the investigation, aired his conclusion in documents quoted by the Grand Junction Sentinel (posted previously here)  this morning:

“Based on the sworn testimony of Mr. Fischer and his contemporaneous emails, personal notes and other documents produced by him, it is clear that in 2005, Mr. McInnis both disclosed to Mr. Fischer that his draft articles may be published by the Hasan Family Foundation and instructed Mr. Fischer (a water law expert but inexperienced author) that he must not plagiarize anyone’s work. …”

So Gleason clears McInnis of dishonest lawyerly conduct.

But does it clear him of slimy, squeezy, mean politican conduct? Does it make his conduct look, ah, gubernatorial, if I can use that word there.

No way.

No one but a lawyer would believe it means much, in the political name clearing business, if emails stated that Rollie Fischer was told not to plagiarize. And he apparently forgot or didn’t read the fine print.

That’s no reason for McInnis to go on TV and blame the plagiarism on Fischer. He should have taken responsibility himself. His name was on it. Fischer was confused, and so were the Hasans, according to the story in the Grand Junction Sentinel today.

Still, we don’t know if today’s news was, in fact, the name-clearing event that McInnis was referring to in November. You have to guess that it was, or at least that he had found correspondence with Fischer and the Hasans that put the blame for the water plagiarism on Fischer.

If so, if McInnis thought this would Shyne up his image, McInnis still doesn’t get it.

His mistake was throwing his research assistant under the bus. He could have survived the plagiarism, probably. But his handling of it sunk his campaign.

He can’t clear his name of those mistakes. That was his problem then, and that’s what he’s going to have to live with.

Media right to scrutinize Buck positions before/after primary

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Ken Buck is having second thoughts on yet another issue, The Denver Post reports today.

This time, it’s the consumption tax, which Buck called “great” during the GOP primary but now says was “never my alternative,” according to The Post.

The Post reports:

“Buck’s stance Wednesday on the consumption tax is the latest instance in which he has offered a different position from in the primary.”

We all like a person, especially if she is your wife but even if he is a political candidate, who’s willing to change his or her opinion.

But the key phrase in The Post’s sentence above is “different position from in the primary.”

It’s one thing to consider new information and make a change. It’s another to take a position to appeal to one group of people (right-wing GOP primary voters) and change it to appeal to another group of people (average everyday angry voters).

In this case, whether you’re the angry right winger or the average angry voter, you’re wondering whether Buck will say anything to get elected.

That’s why Buck’s recent changes are important, and why media outlets like The Post deserve credit for spotlighting them for us.

In today’s article, The Post reviewed three other issues, on which Buck has flipped since the primary:

Personhood. He supported it during the primary, briefly came out against it, and now says he’s neutral, but is still in favor of personhood “as a concept.”

Pro-choice judges. During the primary, Buck said he wouldn’t confirm “pro-abortion” candidates for any federal job, including judges. Now Buck will confirm pro-choice nominees.

Anti-abortion legislation. During the primary, Buck promised to sponsor anti-abortion legislation. Now he won’t.

Now that Buck is establishing a record of backtracking, The Post and other media outlets should offer readers a wider view of his before/after primary positions. The expansive list includes:

Social Security and Medicare. During the primary, Buck says “the private sector runs programs like [health care and retirement] far better” than the federal government.  Now the Buck campaign says, “Ken is not in favor of privatizing Social Security,” and we have to keep a “promise” to seniors and maintain the program, with tweaks including privatization and a higher retirement age for younger people.

Constitutionality of Social Security. During the primary, Buck said he was “not sure” about the constitutionality of major federal programs passed over the past 70 or 80 years. Now he says he’s “never had doubts” about the constitutionality of Social Security.

Privatization of Medicare. During a primary debate (Mike Rosen 7-19-10), Buck said he supports “privatizing as many of the areas of health care as possible, including the decisions of folks that are on Medicare.” Now he tells the New York Times that he hasn’t “decided whether some form of vouchers would work or not.”

Department of Education. During the primary, to select audiences, Buck advocated shutting it down immediately. Now he consistently says it should be cut back.

Common forms of birth control. Consistent with his position during the primary, the Buck campaign told 9News that he’s against common forms of birth control that prevent implantation, such as IUDs as well as some forms of the Pill. Now he says he is “not in favor of banning any common forms of birth control in Colorado.” (But still opposes killing fertilized eggs, which are killed by common forms of birth control.)

Social Issues. (See above.)

Consumption tax. (See above.)

News outlets like The Post, Associated Press, Grand Junction Sentinel, and others have covered Buck’s before/after primary stances on a case-by-case basis, but I’d like to see more reporting that brings all these issues together, a bit like Buck’s interview with New York Time reporter John Harwood here, and delves more deeply into why Buck staked out the positions he did initially and why he is changing his views post-primary on some issues and not others.

Ari Armstrong’s media analysis sparks response by Norton

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Ari Armstrong’s media analysis has apparently led Jane Norton to completely and unequivocally endorse Amendment 62, the Personhood measure, which would grant zygotes the legal rights of U.S. citizens.

The Grand Junction Sentinel reported May 10 that “all of the top-named GOP candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate” support the ballot question. 

You’d certainly think from reading Norton’s website that she’d endorse Amendment 62, but her campaign had never officially confirmed this to GJ Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby, despite his request to do so over a week ago, Ashby told me. (The campaign lapse could be explained by staff changes, however, Ashby points out.)

During the last two days, Norton’s campaign would not provide confirmation of her support for Amendment 62 for Ari, either.

And, as Ari pointed out in his blog, there were small but serious differences (and political ramifications) between Norton’s website statement on abortion and the text of Amendment 62.

Today, Norton’s Campaign confirmed that Ashby’s article was correct. She supports Amendment 62.

In any case, as Ashby told me, the major point of Ashby’s article was never in question, namely that in 2008 none of the GOP candidates would touch the personhood amendment and today they’re running toward it.