Keyser coverage should focus on key point even Republican allies aren’t standing up for Keyser

May 13th, 2016

UPDATE: Everett and Holbert continue going after Keyser.

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Never afraid to withhold his opinion when it comes to U.S. Senate candiate Jon Keyser, Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) unleashed these Facebook posts this week:

Everett: “Sadly this is classic Keyser, saw this quite a few times in the year we served together in the legislature. Again, this guy is not ready for prime time…

A couple things here:
#1 – Again Keyser is not ready for prime time and his validity as a candidate will dog him for the rest of the campaign
#2 – Clearly the Secretary of State has a flawed review process; I may be working on legislation to address this next year
#3 – Go through the caucus and assembly process. Less expensive and you’ll KNOW if you’ve made the ballot.”

Everett was a supporter of Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), another GOP U.S. Senate candidate who failed to make the Republican GOP primary ballot.

But Everett’s attack highlights the absence of any GOP support for Keyser in the copious media coverage of his refusal to answer questions about forged signatures on his ballot-access petition.

What you do see are Republicans like Everett and Rep. Chris Holbert, who wrote on Facebook of Keyser:

Holbert: “Sweat, shuffle around nervously, evade the question, and blink a lot nervously. Nailed it!”

The GOP response is key, at least for now, because it’s Republicans who will determine whether Keyser faces Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

And the signs, beyond the attacks from Keyser’s expected GOP critics, aren’t looking good–as in there are literally no signs of GOP support for Keyser.

The Republican audience at yesterday’s debate at the Foothills Republican Club didn’t respond well to Keyser’s spin, as reported by The Denver Post’s John Frank:

The debate’s first four questions involved the petition issue, and Keyser refused to answer all of them.

“Here’s the important thing. I’m on the ballot, and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet,” Keyser said in a line he repeated five times in two minutes.

The response drew groans from the crowd and a shot from GOP rival Darryl Glenn who said the issue is important to the candidate’s integrity.

“If you are going to stand for the rule of law, if you are going to raise your hand and support the constitution, then you need to follow the law,” Glenn said to applause. “That’s the issue.”

So at this point, it looks like no one is supporting Keyser, not even any of Keyser’s allies. That’s a key point that journalists should document in more detail as we move forward.

 

Keyser said he’d “double- and triple-checked” his petition signatures and “everything”

May 12th, 2016

With Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser still not talking to reporters about multiple forged signatures on his ballot-access petitions, I had no choice but to look back at previous statements Keyser made about the signature-gathering process. And reporters should be interested in what I found.

Recall that he claimed, on conservative talk radio May 2, to have “double- and triple-checked our petition signatures.”  Listen below.

In fact, in one interview on KOA 850-AM, he twice said he the phrase “double- and triple-checked,” indicating he’d put some thought into it. He said his campaign checked “everything” related to the petition process, which you’d think would include forgeries and signature gatherers with criminal histories of forgery.

This leads to the question for Keyser, if he ever talks to reporters about this: How could he possibly have double- and triple- checked his signatures if at least 10, according to 7News, are forgeries?

Why did Keyser say he double- and triple-checked the signature, as well as the entire “petition process and everything?” Did someone mislead him? Was he making this up? Why didn’t he verify what he was saying before he said it?

Keyser told KOA’s Mandy Connell on May 2:

Keyser: “It was an interesting week. It wasn’t too dramatic for us. We had double- and triple-checked our petition process and everything. And actually, I’m a reservist still in the United States Air Force, and I was gone on reserve duty. And I knew that we had double- and triple-checked our petition signatures. But we had a secretary of state that said we had a problem. We were a few signatures short in one of the congressional districts. But we knew we were okay. We were very confident about that. It took a couple days, but I’m on the ballot now and ready to beat Michael Bennet.” [needless to say, BigMedia emphasis]

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/on-radio-gop-us-senate-candidate-keyser-blames-sos-for-signature-fiasco

Best reporting on the the state legislature in 2016

May 12th, 2016

Here’s my list of the best reporting on the state legislature this session, from a progressive perspective. The press corps is threatened and depleted but continues to crank out quality journalism. Let’s hope we can say that next year.

o In a detailed analysis of votes on numerous issues, The Denver Post’s John Frank illuminated beautifully that the split among Republicans in our state senate reflects divisions in the Republican Party nationally. His list of eight hard-right state senators, later dubbed the “Hateful Eight” by liberals, includes two in possible swing districts: Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs and Laura Woods of Westminster.

o The Denver Post’s John Frank broke a story exposing the tactics of Americans for Prosperity in pressuring state lawmakers to sign a pledge not to “undermine the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by creating a special exemption for the Hospital Provider Fee.” The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins filled out the picture of AFP with an illuminating piece about the organization’s field work—as well as another story featuring the angry response of Republican Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) to AFP’s apparent pressure on Crowder. The pressure from AFP appeared to have ratcheted up after Hutchins had matter-of-factly reported Crowder’s views in support of turning the provider fee into an enterprise.

o The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins also banged out an excellent explainer of the hospital provider fee (and related issues), just as the legislative session was cranking up and few people understood what the fee was and what was going on.

o Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland offers a daily drumbeat of short interviews that often prove illuminating or provide a springboard more in-depth analysis (e.g., Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ position on election modernization or Sen. Larry Crowder’s stance on Syrian refugees).

o The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus asked why J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) had voted last year for a program offering contraception to low-income women and teens, but this year voted against it.  It’s basic journalism, of course, but often forgotten in onslaught of other news.

o The Colorado Independent’s Marrianne Goodland provided in-depth coverage on, among other legislation, a predatory-lending bill that was defeated by state house Democrats.

o Fox 31 Denver’s Amanda Zitzman put a human face on a bill aimed at informing citizens about the cost of free-standing emergency rooms versus urgent care.

o The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch is trying to do something different at the newspaper with his “Joey ‘Splains” series. He’s on the right track.

o On the legislative campaign trail, we owe thanks to the reporters who covered the caucuses and county assemblies, allowing us not to rely solely on reports by party activists. The Colorado Statesman’s coverage, especially Ernest Luning’s, on social media and in articles stands out.

o The Boulder Weekly’s Caitlin Rockett found holes in the assertion that a bill targeting tax havens was bad for small business.

o The Colorado Statesman’s Hot Sheet is a welcome infusion of legislative news. (In the advocacy world, ProgressNow Colorado’s Daily News Digest is a userful compilation of political news coverage.)

o The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland was the only journalist to write about the crazy irony of Rep. Kevin Priola missing a vote on a parental-leave bill, which he opposed, because he had to take his kid to the doctor.

 

Keyser’s promise to “always” answer questions is out the window

May 11th, 2016

Reporters should now that earlier this month, former Rep. Jon Keyser said what some politicians will say, and promised to always answer questions.

The context of May 2 discussion on KOA 850-AM was social issues, but you wouldn’t expect Keyser to have one standard about answering questions on social issues and another standard for other topics, like possible illegal campaign activities.

Keyser’s promise with respect to answering questions was clear (Listen below.):

Keyser: These are all issues that we have to talk about, if it’s a social issue. If it’s a question, I always answer the question. [BigMedia emphasis]

But now, Keyser’s campaign is refusing to answer questions from 7News reporter Marshall Zelinger about signatures that were apparently forged on Keyser’s petition to put his name on the June 28 GOP primary ballot.

Zelinger reported: We reached out to the Keyser campaign with a phone call and text to the spokesman, but as of Tuesday night at 11:45 p.m., he had not returned our call, text or tweets.

It’s not as if Zelinger’s questions are out-of-bounds or anything. He’s found 10 signatures that are clearly forged from people who leave in Congressional District One, where Keyser’s campaign needed to gather 1,500 signatures to make the ballot. He got 1,520 signatures. If you subtract the 10 forged signatures, Keyser is down to 1,510, and all of his signatures from CD 1 haven’t been analyzed yet.

Bottom line, reporters should point out that Keyser has promised in the past to always answer questions. In the wake of this story, he’s not doing so.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/gop-us-senate-candidate-says-hell-answer-any-question-on-koa-may-2-2016

Elbert Country Commissioner downplays his Facebook promise to go to jail to protect his granddaughter from “sick” transgender people

May 11th, 2016

In a Facebook post last month, Elbert County (Colorado) Commissioner Robert Rowland wrote that he would end up “in jail” if he saw a transgender person enter a bathroom that was also being used by his granddaughter.

Rowland was commenting on an article, posted April 14 on Facebook, which quoted former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz as saying, “Men should not be going to the bathroom with little girls.”

In the comment section, Rowland wrote,  “If I catch one of the sick bastards following my granddaughter into the bathroom, I will be in jail.”

Rowland, whose Elbert County district is southeast of Denver, said Tuesday his Facebook comment was not a threat of violence.

“I’m a Christian man,” Rowland said. “I’m not a violent man. I would certainly do one of two things. I would retrieve my granddaughter quickly or ask the person to refrain until she’s finished.”

With respect to going to jail, Rowland said, “Maybe somebody would get angry if I tried to delay them going in, while my granddaughter had a chance to get out. But that’s about it.”

“I’m an ex-cop,” Rowland, a Republican, said. “I’ve put enough people in jail. I don’t want to be on the other side.”

“It is an emotional issue for everybody,” he said.

Asked for a response to Rowland’s comment, One Colorado Political Director Laura Reinsch pointed out that there’s no record of any criminal problems with transgender people using bathrooms in Colorado.

“Transgender Coloradans are not ‘sick,’” said Reinsch via email. “They only want to live their lives like every other Coloradan does, and that includes being able to use the bathroom without harassment. Since 2008, Colorado law has allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that reflects their gender identity, and there hasn’t been one instance of a transgender person assaulting anyone in a bathroom in our state. The language used by Commissioner Rowland is offensive and misrepresents the experiences of transgender people.

“Transgender Coloradans are our friends, neighbors, and family members, and they deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.”

Even in North Carolina, where state legislators passed a law requiring people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate, there is no record of assaults by transgender people in bathrooms.

This accusation has been called the anti-LGBT “bathroom-predator myth,” and on Monday the federal Justice Department sued North Carolina, arguing that its law is discriminatory.

Robert Rowland

Does embattled GOP candidate Frazier regret not going through assembly, like Darryl Glenn?

May 10th, 2016

Denver talk-radio host Craig Silverman challenged GOP U.S. Senate canidate Ryan Frazier’s assertion May 6 that the petition path to the primary ballot is a grassroots route, and Silverman asked, after Frazier was off air, whether donations to Frazier’s campaign would “go directly to Scott Gessler and his legal fees.”

The exchange started with Frazier, who’s waiting for the Colorado Supreme Court to decide whether he’ll qualify for the primary ballot, telling Silverman that the “system is broken and the process [of ballot access] is stuck in the last century.”

Silverman responded by asking if Frazier regretted not going “through the assembly process like Darryl Glenn.”

Frazier (at 1:45): No!  Look, we got over 18,000 people to sign our petitions. You can’t tell me that’s not a grassroots approach.  That’s why we chose to go the petition route, is that we felt it was a grassroots approach to getting out to talk to tenss of thousands of voters.  We’re very, very much committed to the process we took.  But quite frankly, guys, sometimes you don’t realize how flawed the system is until you’re in the middle of it.  And that’s what we’re realizing now.  But here’s what we know –nand it’s not in question, Craig – is that the voters – these are valid Republican voters.  There’s no question about that.  And we believe that they should be counted.  So that’s what we’re fighting for.  And we believe that – or at least, we hope – that a logic will prevail in this case.

Silverman responded by saying, “I don’t understand how that’s grassroots, to pay over $100,000 to get some stranger to hold the petition outside the various courthouses where I go.  ’ve seen the petitioners. It doesn’t feel like I’m meeting Ryan Frazier or really participating on a grassroots level, if I decided to sign that.”

Frazier said he and his team are out there, too, and it’s a grassroots process.

At the end of the show, after Frazier solicited donations from listeners and then departed, Silverman wondered out loud whether Frazier’s donations would go directly to the pocket of Frazier’s lawyer, Scott Gessler, who’s representing Frazier’s cause in the courts.

Frazier (6:36):  I just want to encourage your listeners to go to FrazierForColorado.com. We could use every donation, every contribution some can make — no matter how small – to help us as we fight to fix this broken system….

Silverman: Does that money go directly to Scott Gessler and his legal fees?

Dan Caplis: You know, it’s the nature of the business.

Silverman: I don’t begrudge it! I like lawyers to get paid

Caplis: Yeah. No, the nature. Of. The. Business.

El Paso Country Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former CSU athletic director Jack Graham easily made the Republican primary ballot, while businessman Robert Blaha and former State Rep. Jon Keyser both required a judge to add them to the ballot.

Did GOP flack intend for his attack on anti-vaxxer Neville to richochet into anti-vaxxer Woods?

May 9th, 2016

GOP operative Tyler Sandberg took a Twitter shot at State Sen.Tim Neville (R-Littleton) last month, just after Neville lost his bid to take on Michael Bennet in this fall’s Colorado Senate race.

Responding to an article quoting Neville as graciously saying “the people” had spoken, Sandberg snapped, “And the people support vaccinations.”

Sandberg is correct. Neville supported an unpopular bill in the state legislature last year (SB15-077) that would have made it even easier for parents to opt-out of getting their kids vaccinated in Colorado. Progressives have called Neville and others “anti-vaxxers” for supporting the efforts last year (and opposing sensible vaccination reporting this year) given that Colorado has some of the most lax vaccination policies in the country.

The funny part is, Neville is far from alone in the anti-vaxxer crusade. He’s joined by, among others, Republican State Sen. Laura Woods, whose Westminster race in November will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the state senate and thus stop the Democrats, who have the governor’s office and state house, from taking control of state government.

So Sandberg’s shot at Neville inadvertently ricocheted into Woods. Or was the salvo intentional?

You don’t often see a muckety-muck flack like Sandberg, who’s been a mouthpiece for Rep. Mike Coffman, throwing shade at a candidate who’s got control of state government riding on her shoulders. And such an attack should have been spotlighted by reporters.

So I asked Sandberg on Twitter whether his anti-vaxxer aspersion applied to Woods and others as well:

.@wtylersandberg Just saw this, but wondering if you’re mocking not only @NevilleforCO but also @SenLauraWoods & others? #copolitics #coleg

How much damage does Sandberg think Woods’ anti-vaxxer stance will cause?

9News reporter doesn’t let Coffman hide behind and then contradict spokesperson

May 5th, 2016

Politicians like to trick us by hiding behind their spokespeople and then, if necessary, contradicting whatever their spokesperson said.

Case in point: Mike Coffman.

Yesterday Coffman put out a wishy washy statement about whether he’d support Donald Trump. But back in February, when Coffman himself was dodging reporters’ questions about Trump, Coffman’s spokesperson was adamant that Coffman would back Trump if Trump became the Republican nominee, as quoted by The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning.

Good reporters won’t let a politician, like Coffman, shove out a new position without, at a minimum, explaining why the new statement contradicts that of his spokesperson.

Case in point: Brandon Rittiman.

He quoted Coffman’s statement about Trump yesterday and noted that it completely contradicted the words of his mouthpiece back in February. From Rittiman’s story:

In a statement, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) said he’s not sold on Trump yet, calling his party’s presumptive presidential nominee “divisive.”

“Trump has a long way to go to earn the support of many – me included,” Coffman wrote.

That statement contradicts what his campaign told the Colorado Statesman in February. The relevant portion of the article (which is behind a paywall) reads as follows:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary?” said [Mike Coffman] campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm. “The answer is obviously yes. And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”

Other reporting on Coffman’s Trump statement ignored Strohm’s comment, but I’m sure there will be ample opportunities for reporters to ask Coffman to explain what’s going on here.

TrumpWatch: Gardner said Trump can’t win. Woods favored him. What say local Republicans now?

May 4th, 2016

The local response to Trump’s big win last night should catch the attention of journalists now, with Colorado Republicans coming to grips with Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee.

On the pro-Trump side, as I’ve blogged many times, there’s apparently only one elected official in the state of Colorado who’s actually factually called Trump one of her favorite candidates, and that’s State Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster, whose race in November will likely decide whether Democrats take complete control of state government in Colorado. Yet, she’s never been asked about her fondness for Trump. (See video below.)

As I chronicled previously, other Colorado Republicans are divided on whether they’ll back Trump.

One Republican who’s refused to say whether he’d support Trump is Rep. Mike Coffman, who’s handling of Trump could affect the outcome of his contested congressional race in Aurora against Democratic State Sen. Morgan Carroll. (Rep. Ken Buck, who called Trump a “fraud,” has also been undecided about backing the mogul.)

In February, Coffman wouldn’t say if he’d get behind Trump, if Trump won the nomination. What say he now?

Then there’s Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who thinks Trump cannot win. Back on Februray 4, three months before Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Gardner hopped on a Denver radio station and told the world (or at least a cloistered conservative corner of it) that Donald Trump cannot win the general election.

Gardner: ‘The bottom line is this. There is only one way to prevent a third term of Barack Obama, and that is to elect a Republican nominee as president. I believe the only person who can win the November election and the Republican nomination is Marco Rubio.” (Listen to the Feb. 4 podcast here at 7:20 or below.)

Whoops. Or maybe not?

Gardner, who once called Trump a “buffoon” and won’t really say if he’d even support Trump,  is of course not the only Republican who said point-blank that Trump can never win in a general election. But what say he now that Trump is the Republican man of the year?

There’s some interesting GOP explaining to do now, and let’s hope we’ll see journalists making sure it happens.

Listen to State Sen. Laura Woods on KNUS 710-AM Jan. 16, 2016

https://youtu.be/3xMMMWNqrj8

Listen to Cory Gardner on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show Feb 4, 2016 (at 6 min 45 seconds)

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/sen-cory-gardner-disucsses-gop-presidential-field-on-knus-february-4-2015

Fact Check: Keyser blames SOS for ballot fiasco, but he made the error

May 3rd, 2016

U.S. Senate candidate John Keyser is blaming his campaign’s initial failure to qualify for the GOP primary ballot on a “bureaucrat” in the CO Secretary of State’s Office.

Keyser: “It was an interesting week. It wasn’t too dramatic for us. We had double and triple-checked our signature process and everything…. We had a secretary of state that said we had a problem. We were a few signatures short in one of the congressional districts. But we knew we were okay. We were very confident about that. It took a couple days, but I’m on the ballot now and ready to beat Michael Bennet.

Connell: What was the confusion…

Keyser: We had a guy who was working for us for months, collecting signatures. He did a great job, doing that. Now the secretary of state, not actually the secretary of state, but a bureaucrat that works in that office decided that he couldn’t quite tell who that person was, whether in fact he was a registered voter. He was of course. He had been registered as a Republican for years and everything. We know we didn’t have any issue there. Unfortunately, we had to go to court to take care of it, but were’ moving on.

Here’s what actually happened, per The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews:

Keyser missed the mark in one congressional district because the address for one of the petition collectors did not match the registered voter file, as required by law. [BigMedia emphasis]

So the evil bureaucrat in the secretary of state’s office was just following the law!

A judge later determined that the Keyser campaign made the error, but she determined that Keyser came close enough to following the rules that she let his name appear on the ballot–in the interest of giving voters a choice. Close call for Keyser. If he had been following the rules, he wouldn’t have needed the judge’s decision.

So Keyser’s “double” and “triple” checking did not uncover the error, which was discovered by the secretary of state’s office. Despite this, Keyser tries to blame a government official who was just following the law.

Connell should make an on-air correction, stating that Keyser delivered misinformation on her show.

Listen to Jon Keyser on the Mandy Connel Show May 2, 2016

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/on-radio-gop-us-senate-candidate-keyser-blames-sos-for-signature-fiasco