Archive for May, 2011

Radio show breaks news bit that State Republican Chair allegedly told El Paso GOP Secretary she should “strongly consider” resigning

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

UPDATE: Ryan Call, Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, responded to my request for a comment on the topic of this blog post. His response, in its entirety, follows:

I believe Sarah is a bright, talented young individual who has a great deal to offer the Republican Party in a leadership capacity. Her duties and role as a County Party officer are different than an activist or volunteer, or even as other members of her county’s Executive Board. Her elected Party leadership role as an officer includes certain important obligations and duties to her fellow officers, to her County Party Executive Board, and to the Republican Party’s elected officials, candidates and prospective candidates. Like an officer within any organization, her first duty is to that organization and to furthering the mission of the organization, which for the Republican Party is helping to elect Republican candidates, supporting Republican elected officials, and advancing Republican principles and our philosophy of government.

As an example, it would be entirely inappropriate for Mike McCoy, the Denver Bronco’s offensive coordinator and assistant coach, to hold a press conference or issue a statement that is critical of head coach John Fox or takes shots at Kyle Orton, the team’s designated starting quarterback. Similarly, it would be inappropriate for a corporate officer to issue statements or take a position that is contrary to the expressed decisions of the corporate board of directors or the company’s president.

It’s perfectly appropriate for a county party officer to express contrary positions, or engage in rigorous debate on issues and discussion on the best way to advance the Republican Party’s agenda within the Party, or to privately express his or her views and suggestions to elected officials on matters of policy or legislation at anytime—in fact, the Republican Party encourages such debate and discussion. But once a decision on a matter of policy or approach has been made by that county party’s Executive Board following such debate and discussion, it is every county party officer’s duty and obligation to faithfully implement the decision made by the group as a whole.

I have had a couple of conversations with Sarah regarding her duties as a county party officer, but at no time did I tell her to resign, nor will I. I shared with her that as a party officer, when expressing herself publicly she is not just representing herself but also the EL Paso County Republican Party. As such, I expressed my opinion that as an elected officer she has certain obligations to her county party members, fellow officers, and to the Party’s elected officials and candidates, and suggested that if she does not feel she can separate her personal opinions from her role as a County Party Secretary than she should consider resigning her position as a Party officer and thereby be free to speak out and be an advocate for whatever issues or causes, or for or against whatever candidates or Republican officeholders, she felt was most appropriate, free of the duty of loyalty and obligatory support that is a necessary corollary to official Party leadership.

Republican Party district captains, precinct leaders, volunteers, activists, and all Republican voters all should be encouraged to actively be involved in the debate and discussion of ideas within our Party, and in the discussion of how best to advance our Republican principles and ideas, and are free to support (or oppose) their candidates of choice. Dissent, discussion, and debate is not stifled within our Party – it is encouraged.

But the roles and duties of Republican Party officers are somewhat different; I am hopeful that Sarah will come to recognize that, and will choose to continue to faithfully serve as Secretary of the El Paso County Republican Party.


You know a talk radio show is hitting its stride when it starts breaking news bits.

That’s what Colorado’s flagship Tea Party talk-radio show, Grassroots Radio Colorado, did yesterday. Maybe no one but the Tea-Party ground troops heard the news bit, but it was still newsbitworthy.

Hosts Ken Clark and Jason Worley had El Paso County Republican Party Secretary Sarah Anderson on the show to talk more about the El Paso GOP’s resolution suggesting that party officers should not criticize elected Republicans.

On Grassroots Radio last week, Anderson had agreed with Clark, when he said the resolution was intended to shut up GOP activists, like Anderson.

Over the weekend, Anderson said, Colorado Republican State Chair Ryan Call told her her to “strongly consider” resigning as Secretary, because of her opposition to the resolution.

“Interesting enough, over the weekend, I had it suggested to me that I strongly consider resignation, and I want to say right now that I will not be resigning,” Anderson told Clark and Worley.

“It was suggested to me by a couple different people, most prominently by our State Party Chairman, Ryan Call,” she said. “I do want to stress I was asked to strongly consider it. I was not asked to resign, but I was asked to strongly consider it.”

“I’m irate right now,” Worley said to Anderson after she told him about Call’s suggestion, and he said he was texting Call immediately to find out more about it. On the radio, Worley inaccurately describes the El Paso resolution as a “gag order.”

Call did not immediately return my phone message or email seeking his side of the story. I’ll update this blog post if he responds.

If true, Call’s intervention could be an indicator of how he plans to conduct himself as GOP State Chair, settling disputes by pushing troublemakers like Anderson out of leadership positions instead of trying to bring factions of the party to the table to compromise.

Of course, there may be more to the story than meets the eye. Anderson may have acted in a way unbecoming to the elected office of the Secretary of the El Paso County Republican Party. I’ll try to reach Call and possibly others to find out.

Meanwhile, listening to Anderson talk to Clark and Worley, it sound like Call’s alleged attack hasn’t stopped her from speaking out.

Anderson told the radio audience that El Paso Republicans were trying to enforce the nonbinding resolution asking that party officers not criticize elected Republicans, even though it passed (by a vote of 13 to 3) as a suggestion, not a mandate. And so, she announced, she would continue to speak out.

“I don’t start fights, but I also don’t back down from them when others start them….” Anderson said.

“They want us to shut up and go away,” she said. “The problem is, I know very well, I’ve been involved in politics for a long time, way too long for my age, and we have to stand strong, and we cannot back down.”

“To me this is not about people. I’ve been accused of being other people’s enemy, such as [El Paso Country Republican Party President] Eli [Bremer]. And I don’t. This isn’t a battle about people. It’s a battle about ideas. My enemy, if we’re going to call it that, is the ideology that insulates and protects power in elected officials at all costs. I have to stand for principle. And you have, unfortunately, to pick a side in this. This is now a public battle. Are you going to stand for a Republican Party that stands on principle or are you going to stand for a Republican Party that protects and insulates power. It’s power versus principle. It’s that simple.”

To which one of the hosts replied, “Well, you know, I appreciate that stance because that’s the exact same stance we share here at Grassroots Radio and throughout all the Liberty groups in the state of Colorado.  When we see something wrong, we are going to call you on it.”

The hosts announced that El Paso Chair Bremer was scheduled to be on the radio show, but had to cancel at the last minute. But he promised to appear on the show at a later date, they said.

Radio host says El Paso GOP trying to shut up Republican activists

Monday, May 9th, 2011

People on the left tend to lump all “conservative talk radio” in the same category. Hate-filled, ill-informed, contrived.

That’s not the case at all. The shows differ a lot from one another. Some are filled with passion and authenticity. Others, ironically, bring the Politburo or psychedelic drugs to mind.

Some hosts like Republican insider Dan Caplis stick like epoxy to GOP talking points and others, like Tea Partiers Jason Worley and Ken Clark of “Grassroots Radio Colorado” could care less about partisanship, so their show is almost always raw. That’s really the best word for it. And interesting.

Before tuning in, I like to to predict which Republicans (and Democrats) Clark and Worley will be going after on their show on any given day, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 560 KLZ AM.

So it’s not surprising that Clark was incensed (not in my preferred patchouli way) about the El Paso County Republicans May 2 resolution recommending that party officers refrain from criticizing elected Republicans.

Clark had Sarah Anderson, who’s the Secretary of the El Paso Country Republican Party, on his radio show (560 KLZ AM) May 4 to air out his feelings on the topic:

Clark: So basically what they want you to do is be good little soldiers for the Republican Party. They want to pat you on the head, put you in the back of the bus, and say, shut up, sit down, and do what we tell you. Is that right?

Anderson: Absolutely.

Anderson later pointed out that the resolution, which passed 13-3 in a secret ballot, wasn’t mandatory, just a suggestion.

Still, Clark is entitled to his view, even if the sponsor of the resolution, Bob Denny, told me last week he wasn’t trying to stifle debate.

But Clark’s co-host on Grassroots Radio Colorado, Kanda Calef, who was substituting for Jason Worley, went overboard when she accused progressives of acting like the El Paso Republicans:

Calef: This is very progressive thinking, if I may say so. This is what the left does. They try to stop people from speaking their mind.

Calef was identified by Clark as the radio show’s “researcher,” but she offered no research to back up this claim. As a self-proclaimed progressive, who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, and later repented, I don’t know what Calef was talking about.

So I called the Colorado Democratic Party to find out if it tries to button up its county officers.

“No, we don’t have anything coming close to broaching that subject,” new Communications Director Matt Inveo told me.

I’m trying to reach Calef, to find her examples of “progressives” acting like the El Paso Country Republicans, and I’ll report her answer later, I hope.

Listening to Clark, you get the feeling his un-Patchouli-like response to the El Paso resolution had a subterranean aspect to it. Like, maybe, there were some issues there, some other experiences with the Colorado GOP trying to shut up him or his allies?

Clark said on the radio: That [the El Paso GOP resolution] is not the only place things like this are happening, I can assure you.

Anderson told Clark: “The bylaws of the El Paso County Republican Party do prevent any officers or members of the executive committee from taking sides in primaries. And that’s always been the case, from my understanding, or certainly has been for quite some time. But it’s never precluded people from addressing issues or even specific legislators during session.”

But is there more than this? I called Worley to find out.

“We talked to people in other GOP counties, and there’s rumblings of stifling debate,” Worley told me today.

As for the Democrats, Inveo told me:

Anytime there is a contested Democratic primary, an office holder within the party cannot use his or her party title in making an endorsement. The party is required to provide the same services to all candidates.

CORRECTION: In an early version of this post, I attributed quotes to Worley that should have been attributed to Clark. Sorry for the error, which I corrected in the text.

El Paso GOP passes resolution urging Republican county officers not to criticize elected Republicans

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The El Paso County Republican Party executive committee passed a measure last night recommending, but not mandating, that party officers refrain from criticizing elected Republicans.

ReclaimTheBlue blogger Al Maurer broke the story that a resolution was introduced by Republican Bob Denny “on behalf of Rep. Amy Stephens” and was “designed to stifle opposition to SB-200.” HB 200, which cleared the Colorado House today by a 44-21 vote, establishes health insurance exchanges and has been opposed by Tea Party organizations, while supported by business organizations.

Denny, who represents HD-20 on the El Paso County Republican Party executive committee, told me today that Stephens asked him to bring it up, but he did not introduce the measure on her behalf.

“It was precipitated by SB 200, but the issue was broader than that,” Denny said. “She was concerned about it, and I introduced the measure in general terms.”

Denny declined to say who helped draft the resolution.

“Not that we don’t have freedom of speech, but as party officers, when you’re talking to the press or sending a mass email or something, you shouldn’t undermine party elected officials,” he said. “Party officers don’t agree with everything all the time, but we should at least be neutral.”

“The purpose of our officers is to get Republicans into office, and not undermine the work of those we sent to Denver,” Denny said, adding that there’s no way a resolution like this could stifle debate on SB-200 or other issues people care about.

Denny said it wasn’t practical for a party officer to broadcast personal opinions, for example to reporters, outside of his or her role as a party officer, because the party officer would inevitably be seen as representing the Republican Party.

“I was in the Air Force,” he said. “When you put a uniform on and you start talking, you were seen a representing the Air Force. You might say, I’m speaking for myself, but the press are going to pick you up as representing the Air Force.”

The resolution, which Denny said was a recommendation to the GOP central committee, passed after amendments were added, among which was changing “shall” to “should,” specifying that no mandate was passed, only guidance to party officers.

Maurer wrote on his blog post, which was titled, “Stifling Debate in the El Paso County GOP:”

In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and the measure passed with amendments that made it clear that county officers should remain neutral but were not absolutely prevented from speaking out. A big thanks is due to those on the committee who, while recognizing the need for civility in discourse and party discipline and unity, also balanced that with concerns for free speech and reasoned, open debate. You can read the measure for yourself, with my handwritten edits, here.

But watch what you write on Facebook, Twitter or your blog–all mentioned specifically in the measure–Big Sis is watching. Clearly name-calling and personal attacks are simply rude and uncalled for, but no one in public office should have a problem with honest disagreements on policy. We’re not Democrats after all.

Centrism of Post reflected in editorial board

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

A while back, The Denver Post’s  Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley provided me a website page listing the names and bios of each of the newspaper’s editorial board members. Here’s the link, and below are the names, which I couldn’t locate using The Post’s search tool. They usually appear at the bottom of The Post’s column of editorials:

William Dean Singleton, chairman and Publisher;
Dan Haley, editorial page editor;
Gerald Grilly, president and CEO;
Vincent Carroll, columnist;
Mike Littwin, columnist;
Alicia Caldwell, editorial writer;
Mike Keefe, cartoonist;
Barbara Ellis, news editor;
Cohen Peart, letters editor.

If you’re thinking, who cares, then you’re reading the right blog post, because you should care for a number of reasons.

This group, or portions of it, meets regularly with muckety-muck public figures, and theoretically decides on which candidates to endorse and which positions the newspaper should take in the political fray.

As a practical matter, the board doesn’t vote on every issue or candidate race. And Post chairman Dean Singleton has veto power but doesn’t participate very often. (Singleton told me in 2006 that he reversed only two endorsements up to that time: for Bush in 2004 and Owens in 1998.)

Here’s what Post Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley recently wrote, in response to my question about how the board makes decisions. (He pointed out that this isn’t very exciting.)

“The board meets routinely to talk through the issues of the day, and what we might want to write about. We generally reach a consensus about what the house editorial should say. If we can’t, I’ll make the decision for us. We rarely have actual votes because they’re not really necessary. And as I noted in my column, our opinion isn’t always my opinion, and that’s as it should be. Singleton doesn’t weigh in that often, but he certainly can. As publisher, he sits on the board.”

Haley had just written a column about how The Post came around to endorsing Chris Romer for mayor, despite Singleton’s preference for Mejia.

In any case, back to why this matters.

This indeed a deadly boring topic for a blog post,  but I’m continually amazed at the inability of people to distinguish the news and opinion sections of The Post.

If you don’t like something about The Post’s opinion page, or think something’s missing, contact the people on the editorial board, not a news reporter. (Of course, you can also write a letter to the editor.)

Conversely, you don’t want to complain about editorials to reporters or news editors, because they will say it’s not their purview. Contact them about problems with news stories, or, again, write a letter to the editor.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that no one reads this stuff. The Post still has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, a dedicated following of political elites, plus online viewers.

I think the makeup of the editorial board, and how it functions, lends credence to those who argue that the newspaper’s opinion page is basically centrist, with left and right represented. I don’t mean to open up an endless debate about how you define “left” and “right,” but the editorials don’t look like they were written by Littwin or Carroll very often. (OK, maybe they look like they reflect a bit more of Carroll’s thinking, but I haven’t done my bean count yet to see if this is provable with evidence.)

I know from experience that many people, if they make it to the end of this blog post, will just not believe it. They can’t accept that a newspaper’s editorial page, along with the news section, isn’t under the day-to-day thumb of the owner. I know the owner has an impact, sometimes a huge one, but to write off The Post as controlled by one side or the other is not demonstrably true.

Correction: Post reported that Bo Callaway (and even Dick Wadhams) supported competitive congressional districts

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

It’s worth saying again, given that about 30,000 newspaper layoffs have occurred in the past three years, how much a community loses when a veteran journalist loses her job.

For example, someone like me has to spend hours poring over Nexis to discover that former Gov. Dick Lamm and former GOP chair Bo Callaway secretly agreed in 1980 that Colorado should have competitive congressional districts.

But Post reporter Lynn Bartels simply has to check her brain, not Nexis. She was a Rocky reporter when it published the story back in the year 2000. After having asserted that Bartels failed to report the Lamm/Callaway story Friday, I regret to report today that, in fact, Bartels wrote a piece about it in December.

“I didn’t need to pore over LexisNexis,” Bartels points out. “I worked with Michele Ames and read her story at the time.”

And not only that, she quoted the current Colorado GOP chair, Dick Wadhams, openly saying he supports competitive districts, like Callaway did scretly:

“I think you get better elected officials that way, but I’ve never figured out how we get there,” [Wadhams] said. “You’d have to split El Paso County and Denver County, and I’m not sure either side would go for that.”

So my assertion that The Post, and other local media, had not reported what Colorado Republicans think about competitive districts was also wrong.

We’re fortunate we’ve still got Bartels and other veteran journalists in town. I wish we had more.

Reporters should ask Palin and Boykin during their visit to Colorado today: Can a good Muslim be a good American?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A wire service article in the print edition of today’s Denver Post informs us that Sarah Palin, in a speech yesterday, slammed the endangered-species act and called for more domestic oil drilling, but there was nothing more about her appearance tonight with Gen. William Boykin (U.S. Army, ret.).

An Associated Press story on The Post’s website, however, lets us know that, while in the Army, Boykin “disparaged” Islam but apologized later. The AP story was picked up by a handful of Colorado media outlets. AP reported:

Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin said that America’s enemy was Satan and that one Muslim Somali warlord was an idol-worshipper. Boykin later apologized and said he did not mean to insult Islam. He retired in 2007.

It’s good to see that a drip of Boykin’s attacks on Islam have entered the vein of the Denver media, on the day Palin is scheduled to speak here. But there’s a river of hatred waiting to be aired, including Boykin’s condemnation of Islam and those who practice it. He writes that segments of Islam should not receive 1st Amendment protections like other religions, but his narrow and sweeping condemnations of the Koran and Islamic beliefs make his distinctions between one form of Islam and another meaningless.

At Palin’s event tonight, neither Palin nor Boykin is going to discuss Islam, according to the event’s organizer John Andrews. Reporters need to find the courage to ask Boykin and Palin about their views toward Islam anyway. 

Boykin’s disparagement of Islam is not ancient history, and he’s not apologizing for it now.

And Boykin will be sharing a stage with a former vice presidential candidate who could possibly be the next president of the United States. The fact that these two people are standing together is significant to everyone who cares about tolerance in America.

She and Boykin should be asked the question that the organizer of tonight’s event posed but refused to answer, “Can a good Muslim be a good American?”

If you study Boykin, you’d think he’d answer that question with a no.

And Palin? Well, she’s ok with sharing a podium with Boykin. So it’s reasonable to ask what she thinks.

In fact, journalists wouldn’t be doing their job if they don’t question Palin about Islam. As for Boykin, I’m not saying journalists should condemn him. I can do that. Just tell us what he’s stood for in the past and what he thinks about Islam today. And note that Palin agreed to appear with him at the same event.