Archive for November, 2011

Gessler won’t say there’s fraud in Denver elections, as he did previously, but there “very well may be”

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

My search for an explanation from Scott Gessler about why he’s been telling the media there’s actual “fraud” in Colorado elections bore a bite of fruit last night, when I asked him about his allegations.

I respect Gessler for answering my question, even though a crowd of people was waiting in line to speak with him after his lecture at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute.

I identified myself as a “liberal blogger,” and he hesitated but still responded.

I asked him about his statement, on a radio show in September, that there was actual fraud among mail ballots returned by inactive voters in Denver.

He said he was “not quite sure” he made this statement about the last election. He didn’t. He was referring to the 2009 municipal election, but the same question applies: Was there actual fraud, like he said?

In the radio interview, Gessler said there was a “pretty high incidence of fraud” in Denver’s 2009 election among ballots returned by inactive voters. Listen to Gessler’s Sept. 30 radio statement here.

Regarding 2009, Gessler told me last night:

Gessler: I think if you look at Denver, though, you’ll see in 2009, for a large number of folks, the signatures didn’t match. I think that’s an indicium of fraud, right there, when the signatures don’t match.

Jason: It’s an indication of fraud, but you wouldn’t say that it’s fraud, would you?

Gessler: I said it’s an indicium of fraud. It very well may be. It’s not been fully investigated, to my knowledge.

After Gessler alleged fraud in Denver elections in September, Denver’s Clerk and Recorder denied the accusation, and the head of the Secretary of State’s election division later testified that he was not aware of any fraud relating to ballots mailed to inactive voters.

No talk show host or reporter that I know of asked Gessler what actual factual fraud he was talking about, so I tried to fill in the gap and ask his office, but I got no comment. Until last night.

Last week, Gessler made another vague statement to a reporter in Pueblo that some mail-in ballots are fraudulent. And during his election campaign in 2010, Gessler implied illegal behavior on the part of Denver election officials.

I’d liked to have asked Gessler more questions about his allegations, but he didn’t want to discuss it further, as you can see from the transcript of my interview here.

The biggest question in my mind is, but why in the world would a Secretary of State, who’s gotta respect America’s democratic ideals even more than the rest of us, play fast and loose with the F word?

I’m sorry if this sounds all high-minded, but does Gessler understand the damage he’s potentially doing by making people think their election system, upon which we base our imperfect but respectable system of self government, is rotting around the edges, sprinkled with fraud, if not laced with it?

I can’t think of a more serious accusation a Secretary of State could make, and I’m hoping to talk more with him about why he does this, with nothing but speculation to back him up.

Transcript of interview with Scott Gessler at Colorado Christian University, Nov. 14, 2011

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Jason Salzman: I’m a blogger in town.

Scott Gessler: Nice to meet you.

Jason: I’ve been trying to talk to your spokespeople, I’m a liberal blogger, about a question. I’m hoping I could ask you directly.

Gessler: Probably not.

Jason: Probably not?

Gessler: Probably not.

Jason: But hear what it is.

Gessler: I’m going to chat with some of these folks.

Jason: On the radio you said there was fraud, actual fraud, among the inactive returned ballots in the Denver election.

Gessler: I’m not quite sure that’s what I said for this particular election. I think if you look at Denver, though, you’ll see in 2009, a large number of folks, the signatures didn’t match. I think that’s an indicium of fraud, right there, when the signatures don’t match.

Jason: It’s an indication of fraud, but you wouldn’t say that it’s fraud, would you?

Gessler: I said it’s an indicium of fraud. It very well may be. It’s not been fully investigated, to my knowledge.

Jason: And statewide, any instance of fraud that you can point to?  Any single instance?

Gessler: I’ve given you my stand.

Jason: I appreciate the answer.

Gessler: Sure.

When Gessler alleges election fraud, journalists should report whether he has evidence of it

Monday, November 14th, 2011

In an an article in the Pueblo Chieftain Thurs, Secretary of State Scott Gessler was quoted as saying, as he has in the past, that some mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

The Chieftain reported:

Verifying the validity of voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots also poses a challenge, according to Gessler.

“A fair number of ballots are rejected because signatures don’t match,” he said. “Signature verification is sort of a black art.”

“Signatures vary a lot, and sometimes people’s signatures don’t match what’s on file. Some are fraud, some are innocent mistakes.” [BigMedia emphasis]

You can argue about Gessler’s definition of the black arts, but the Secretary of State either has data to back up his assertion of election fraud or he doesn’t, and it’s such a serious allegation, possibly bringing into question people’s basic trust in our representative government, that a reporter shouldn’t let it slide by without reporting whether Gessler has evidence of it.

I mean, if it’s not in the public interest for all of us to know about election fraud, when it’s alleged by the Secretary of State, I don’t know what is.

So I emailed the Chieftain’s Patrick Malone, who wrote the piece, and asked if Gessler told him how many instances of fraud he’s found and when and where Gessler found them. I asked if Gessler thought Pueblo was particularly problematic, fraud-wise.

Malone responded: “On the topic of fraud, I took [Gessler] to be speaking in general terms about the statewide picture and basing it solely on his suspicions.”

I would argue that if Gessler tells a reporter that election fraud exists, and it turns out to be, in fact, based on Gessler’s suspicions without proof, then a phrase like, “Gessler could provide no proof of election fraud in Colorado,” should be included after the Gessler allegation, because it’s such a serious accusation.

The burden of proof is on Gessler to supply the proof of fraud, not on reporters to prove that his assertion of election fraud is not true.

So reporters don’t need to do any research here. Just asking for the facts and reporting the answer is what’s required.

On radio, CO Right to Life leader vows 2012 effort to pass Personhood amendment in CO, despite loss in Mississippi

Friday, November 11th, 2011

On Kevin Swanson’s “Generations Radio” show, broadcast Nov. 11 from his basement in eastern Colorado, Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks vowed to press ahead next year with a third try at passing a Personhood Amendment in Colorado.

Hanks sounded mildly disappointed with Mississippi’s rejection Tues. of a Personhood measure by a 58-to-42-percent margin, but she told Swanson that the Personhood movement is “moving in the right direction,” gaining 27% in CO in 2008, 30% 2010, and 42% in Mississippi this week.

Hanks invited Swanson’s listeners to a “March for Life” Jan. 21 at noon on the west steps of the CO Capitol, where the third attempt to pass a Personhood Amendment in Colorado will be officially launched and petitions for gathering signatures to put the measure on the ballot will be available. Mike Adams of conservative and others will speak, Hanks to Swanson, at the “Round Three Personhood Colorado” event.

She told Swanson that Personhood activists in Florida are gathering signitures now, as are supporters in Ohio and Montana. Coloradans were the first in the country to vote on a Personhood amendment in 2008.

“We won’t quit until justice has been served for all those innocent children who have been killed,” Hanks told Swanson.

“This is the kind of thing that bothers the other side,” Swanson concluded at the end of his broadcast. “They realize, we’re not giving up. And that really irritates them. And I’ll tell ya, to be honest, I kind of enjoy that.”

Swanson, who’s Nov. 11 broadcast was titled “Making Progress on Personhood,” is a pastor, who tells his listeners that his radio show “is trying to put some things back together during the decline of western civilization, the breakdown of faith, family, and freedom, the breakdown of morality, and of course the massive, massive increase in the state, that is statism, tyranny, government tyranny.”

Questions posed to failed CO Senate candidate Buck should inform reporters now trailing Romney

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The following fictitious conversation between GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and failed Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck illustrates the questions reporters should ask Romney, now that he’s told Fox News that he “absolutely” would have signed a “constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception.”

Romney: God I wish the Personhood folks would take a hint from last night’s vote in Mississippi and just disappear.

Buck: Mitt, the Personhood folks don’t go away. They stick around, they don’t compromise, and they pay attention. That’s why I endorsed their amendment in the primary. I needed every primary vote I could get, like you do down in Iowa.

Romney: Then what happened?

Buck: After I squeaked by in the primary, reporters started asking questions, and the whole Personhood thing got way complicated.

Romney: Why?

Buck: Well, first good reporters are going to want to know if you oppose birth control. You got it wrong the other day in Iowa, Mitt, when you said, “Life begins at conception. Birth control prevents conception” Some forms of birth control, including some forms of the Pill kill fertilized eggs. Those are post-conception eggs, Mitt. Any journalist worth her press credential will figure this out, as reporters in Denver did. And if not, a blogger will. And you can’t be against the Pill.

Romney: hmmm.

Buck: And another fair question reporters asked me was, of course, about the morning after pill or Plan B, which is routinely offered to women who are raped. The Personhood amendment would ban the morning-after pill, as Denver reporters pointed out.

Romney: So that’s easy. You un-endorse the Personhood Amendment.

Buck: Exactly. You got that answer right real fast. You must have some experience doing that kind of thing. That’s what I did, though I told reporters I still supported Personhood “as a concept.” But, if they’re doing their jobs, reporters will ask you a bunch of other questions that hang there logically.

Romney: Like what?

Buck: First, if you continue to say that life begins at conception, good reporters will ask you if you think a women who’s raped should have the option of having an abortion. One talk radio host in Denver asked me if I thought a teenage girl raped by her teenage brother should be forced to give birth to a baby fathered by her rapist brother. I had to say yes.

Romney: Maybe you should have said no.

Buck: I had already un-endorsed the Personhood Amendment. Reporters were paying too much attention to let me flip flop, without generating big headlines, if I abandoned principled not-even-in-the-case-of-rape-and-incest stance.

Buck: As the campaign moved along, my opponents began running ads saying I was against common forms of birth control and against a women’s right to choose, even in the case of rape and incest. So these issues kept coming up.

Romney: Couldn’t you just say, hey, it’s the economy.

Buck: My supporters and I tried that. I said these are settled matters, and jobs are what people care about. But good reporters jumped all over me and said that women care about these issues, and they matter to women voters.

Romney: Jobs matter more.

Buck: Maybe. But I watched my lead in Colorado vanish as these issues seemed to take hold among swing voters, particularly women.

Romney: I think I can dodge reporters better than you did, Ken.

Buck: We’ll see, Mitt.

On day of Personhood vote in Mississippi, Denver radio show host says Romney lying to win over GOP base

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Denver talk show host Bob Enyart says Mitt Romney is lying to the GOP base when he says he’s a “pro-family, pro-life” conservative, and Enyart launched a national campaign to spread to spread the word.

Enyart has also been a tireless supporter of Colorado’s “personhood amendments,” which would have codified Enyart’s belief that life begins at conception.

So, now that Romney is on the record saying he “absolutely” believes, like Enyart, that life begins at conception (and Romney would sign a Constitutional Amendment to make it law) has Enyart’s view of Romney changed?

“Romney needs the Republican base and so he is happy to lie to them for their votes,” Enyart emailed me. “But of course, slavery ended here and elsewhere in the world even though many who eventually supported emancipation in reality hated the slaves themselves. Similarly with child killing, the goal is to make open support of abortion unthinkable, regardless of the hardness of one’s heart.”

With the vote on Personhood taking place today in Mississippi, reporters should find some way, somehow to ask Romney what he thinks about Personhood supporters like Enyart, who has national standing on this issue, who say he’s lying. Or, for that matter, what Romney thinks of Democrats who say his support of Personhood makes him unelectable.

Enyart is the only media figure in Colorado who’s been tracking the Mississippi Personhood vote closely.

On a Nov. broadcast, Enyart interviewed his wife, Cheryl Enyart, who’s on the ground in Mississippi, along with Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks, fighting for passage of the Personhood, called Amendment 26, there.

Bob Enyart asked his wife to compare the response she’s getting in Mississippi to the response from Colorado.

“It’s overwhelmingly positive, whereas in Colorado we didn’t get as much positive response,” Cheryl Enyart replied.

In Colorado, her husband joked, “The most common response is migrating birds, whatever that is.”

“Out here, it seems like some doctors really are supporting the amendment, whereas we didn’t receive that kind of support back in Colorado.”

“Of course, there were some in the medical community that were pro-personhood,” Bob said, “but it seems basically a different culture there [in Mississippi]. And we can thank God for that.”

You’d expect campaign workers like Enyart’s wife to be optimistic, but whether Personhood wins or loses in Mississippi, today and tomorrow would both be good days to see more in the media on Romney’s thoughts on personhood.

Pot activist Tvert makes good sub on AM 760

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I like seeing marijuana-reform activist Mason Tvert in the news, because he understands how to be entertaining and informative, while the norm with political activists is to be heavy on the informative part and too light with the entertainment.

That’s one reason you see Tvert on TV.

But Wednesday, who’s subbing for David Sirota on AM760, Colorado’s Prgressive Talk? Tvert.

Tvert demonstrated that he’s not just about pot. He kicked ass on numerous topics.

I’m not saying he should replace Sirota, who’s doing a great job with the morning show. But Tvert makes a good sub.

I asked Tvert via email if he’d been on the radio before:

I filled in for Sirota last Friday, and I did two shows last summer as a sub for Mario Solis-Marich (AM760 afternoon drive).  Otherwise, my experience with radio has been on the other side of the interview, so to speak.  

Does he enjoy it?

Yes, it’s great.   Nice to be able to air my views on issues other than those involving marijuana and drug policy.  I also enjoy the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the listeners and the guests.  The first time I hosted a show (for Mario last summer), I managed to get Ted Haggard on the phone and get him to say he would accept the LGBT community at his new church (his church opening was in the news that day and it was just a day before Pride Fest in Denver).  I wrote a small piece about it and included a clip.

Judging from his beer promotions on his show, Sirota seems to prefer beer over pot. Is this a problem for you?

Sirota has been a very vocal supporter of reforming marijuana laws and has dedicated a great deal of coverage to the issue via his show and his writing.  It’s great to have him out there sparking discussion amongst the progressive community and letting them know this is an important issue, as well as one on which they should be comfortable speaking out. 

Any plans to continue with talk radio or other media work?

Would love to continue guest hosting shows and I try to find time to write, particularly on Huffington.  With the campaign going it is tough.  

Conservative radio show parts ways with Tipton

Friday, November 4th, 2011

“We had Scott Tipton from our district stand in our studio while he was campaigning, and…he said he would go to Washington DC and, night and day, night and day, that he would fight to cut the government in half,” said co-host Cari Hermacinski Oct. 18 on her syndicated Cari and Rob Show.  “He would cut it down by 50 percent. And what has he done, every time it’s come down to cast a difficult vote? He goes with [House Speaker] John Boehner. He goes with the leadership.”

Tipton isn’t standing in Hermacinki’s studio any longer.

“I sent him an email,” Hermacinski’s co-host Rob Douglas told listeners on the same day. “I said, come on the show. We’re going to hold open any time slot you want. I don’t care who’s on air; we’ll bump them, put you on so you can explain to the people of Colorado and this nation why we sent you to Washington, why you are spending more than Nancy Pelosi.”

But, they told their radio audience, no word from Tipton.

“We have not heard back from Congressman Tipton or any member of his staff, his chief of staff, his press secretary, his scheduler, and Scott Tipton himself,” Douglas told his listeners. “I have his personal email address. I’ve emailed them all, not a peep back.”

“We warned our audience that there would be chameleons and charlatans amongst those the Liberty Movement sent to Washington in 2010. Unfortunately, Scott Tipton proved our point,” Douglas wrote response an email. “The bottom line is that we believe Congressman Tipton violated his pledge to voters in the 3rd Congressional District of Colorado that he would go to Washington and work to place the country on a more sustainable fiscal path and therefore is not worthy of support from true fiscal conservatives.”

On the air Oct. 18, Douglas pointed out repeatedly that Treasury Department figures show that there have been no spending cuts at the federal level since Republicans took control of the U.S. House. He said Tipton and House Republicans had chances, through votes on government-funding bills and the debt ceiling limit, to change this.

“There have been votes where Tipton did not stand with the true fiscal conservatives in Congress and instead aligned himself with Speaker Boehner and establishment Republicans who played a major role in creating our nation’s fiscal crisis during the Bush administration,” Douglas wrote to me.

As a result, Douglas promised his audience Oct. 18 that he will not be voting for Tipton.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we all control one vote. The show is about the whole country. But we can only vote where we can vote. Scott Tipton will never get my vote again.”

Asked how the audience of his show, which airs on 10 stations in Colorado and Utah, including KFKA in Greeley and KRDO in Colorado Springs, reacted to this stand against Tipton, Douglas wrote me, “Indications are that many in our audience agree with our view.”

But Douglas wrote that he has no plans to back a candidate that might challenge Tipton next year.

During his last few appearances on the Cari and Rob Show, which originates in Steamboat Springs, Tipton faced the kind of hard questioning you rarely hear when conservatives interview conservatives or, for that matter, when liberals interview liberals.

In April, under tough questioning from both Douglas and Hermacinski, Tipton acknowledged that he had lost trust in House Speaker John Boehner. And he promised to return to the radio show to explain why Boehner had agreed to a budget compromise shaving just $352 million from the federal budget instead of a promised $100 billion.

Douglas complemented on the April show Tipton for answering questions on his radio show, saying on the air after Tipton hung up:

“I gotta hand this to Scott Tipton. He has come on this program every time we asked him to come on.”

As far as I know, Tipton never returned to the show to explain why Boehner didn’t cut $100 billion. But questioned by a Washington DC reporter, Tipton’x office later issued a clarification regarding his commenis on the radio, stating that he was, in fact, confident in Boehner’s leadership, even though he didn’t actually say he trusted Boehner.

Tipton returned to the Cari and Rob Show in May, and again was subject to intense questioning. Douglas grilled Tipton about whether his daughter, a government-relations officer for Broadnet, used the Congressman’s name as she tried to drum up congressional business for firms that use technology licensed by Broadnet, which is owned by Tipton’s nephew.

At the time, Douglas told the Colorado Independent that Tipton’s answers were “Clintonian.”

Tipton apparently hasn’t appeared on the Cari and Rob show since then, marking the end of a relationship with the hosts that, as Tipton entered office, promised to be close and illuminating.

“He said he was happy to be the canary in the coal mine for the Cari and Rob Show,” Douglas said on air Oct. 18. “He would be a representative in Congress who would explain what the Republicans were doing.”

Douglas continued: “Why is Congressman Scott Tipton, why is Speaker of the House John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, why are the Republicans lying to the American people, lying to the Republican Party, lying to the men and women who break their backs every day in this country to send their hard-earned money to Washington to have it wasted publicly, have it wasted secretly…to have it wasted, while these fat cats enrich their families, enrich their wallets, and do not do what they took a pledge to do?”

Post’s Carroll and Littwin now blogging

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

You may have noticed that The Denver Post’s op-ed columnists Mike Littwin and Vincent Carroll have written a flurry of blog posts recently.

Well, that is, if you call Littwin’s four posts since Oct. 28 a flurry, which I would, given that Littwin wrote six blog posts this year prior to Oct. 28. Littwin jump started his blogging with string of two blog posts on the same day, Oct. 28.

Carroll has written ten blog posts since Oct. 5, when he apparently first started blogging.

I asked Littwin via email if he was joining the ranks of the blogging class, in addition to writing his normal column.

His response:

Yeah, I’m trying to join the digital-first, or at least digital-second, world. Obviously, you can’t be a full-time columnist and full-time blogger – or an old guy like me can’t, anyway – but I’m trying to do some blogging, and even tweeting, on days when I’m not columnizing. We’ll see how it works. When I’m blogging, I am, by necessity, sacrificing some of the time I would normally spend doing old-fashioned reporting for my column. But I’m not blind to the new realities, so I’m giving it a whirl.

You can find his “Fair and Unbalanced” blog here. Carroll’s blog is here.

They’re both off to a good start. It’s an honor to have them join us here in the blogosphere.

KOA has no intention of replacing Rosen with Sirota-Brownie, who teamed up to sub for Rosen today

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

For a long time I’ve wondered, what if a Denver talk show paired a true leftist with a true righty.

We’ve got KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Show, but as you know if you listen, Caplis is a thoroughbred Republican and Silverman is a right-leaning centrist, and leaning more to the right each day as he ponders joining the GOP.

What about a left-right duo?

KOA dipped its toe in this direction today, pairing AM760’s talented David Sirota with less talented KOA host Heck’ve-a-job Brownie. The odd duo subbed for Mike Rosen.

The started the program by telling us that they both like each other, even though they are diametrically opposed on most issues.

They also said they didn’t carry water for any political party.

I thought this might be a backhanded slap at Mike Rosen, who carries so much water for the GOP that you worry water will start pouring out of your car radio.

But I don’t think there was actually any intention of slapping Rosen on the part of either of them. They both seem to like him, though Sirota and Rosen have predictably sparred in the past.

In any case, I wondered if KOA was thinking of replacing Rosen with this pair.

Greg Foster, KOA program director, told me that Rosen is on vacation, and Rosen-Brownie were simply subbing for him, and it’s just a one-day deal.

It’s the first time they’ve co-hosted, he said, but each has been a guest on each other’s show. (Brownie started the broadcast by calling Sirota his “guest”, but Sirota reminded him that they were co-hosting.)

Was Foster worried there would be a nasty blow up, on air?

“If I thought there was going to be a blowup, as you say, we wouldn’t have put them on the air together,” Foster replied, adding, “The intention is to have two people together who are entertaining on the radio and known in the market.”

If KOA changes its mind and decides to pair a liberal with a conservative, they shouldn’t get rid of Rosen, who adds value to the discussion of politics in Denver.

I’d suggest leaving Sirota where he is and adding a lefty to Brown’s evening KOA program. Brownie’s show needs some extra life, and a lefty cohosting with Brown could do the trick.