The Donald again sounding a lot like Mike Coffman, this time on debt limit

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmantrump3The Donald, whose trick to political success is never playing defense, continued his offensive stance (pun intended) this week telling Bloomberg TV that congressional Republicans should fight to stop an increase in the debt limit.

And in doing so, The Donald sounded almost exactly like … Rep. Mike Coffman.

You may recall that the last time Republicans fought an increase in the debt limit, the economy teetered and America’s credit rating was actually factually downgraded by Standard and Poor’s for the first time, mostly because of the political sparring, not the state of our economy.

But no mention of these little problems by Trump and Coffman:

First, The Donald this week:

Presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday said he thought it was “worth the fight” for congressional Republicans to threaten not to raise the U.S. debt limit as a way to pressure the Obama administration to agree to spending cuts.

“I would say that it’s worth the fight,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV. “Honestly there is so much fat in Washington that if you had the right people in there you could cut it.”

Next Coffman in 2013, as reported by Fox 31’s Denver’s Eli Stokols at the time:

But Republicans, having agreed to put off decisions about spending cuts, now view the looming debt ceiling as leverage — and they’re promising to use it….

Coffman: “I don’t think going over the fiscal cliff would have been a huge deal. Temporarily, the markets would have been aggravated until the next Congress could have passed new tax cuts and ironed things out.

“But the real big deal is what’s upon us and going past the debt limit. I have to see a way out of this, real spending cuts, before I vote to raise the debt limit.”

Sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he? So did Sen. Cory Gardner.

As I reported before, the two sound a lot alike on immigration (here and here) as well.

I know reporters don’t have time to hook every national political development to our humble locale. But they should give it their best shot, because the stakes are so high.

Republicans and Democrats increased the debt limit over 100 times (Bush and Reagan did it) until 2011, when disaster struck.

Trump gives us a chance to air the issue out again, in advance of the crisis and in front of the public.

Gazette rejects reasonable response to its inaccurate editorial trashing Planned Parenthood

(Citizen Kane would be proud – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Michael Merrifield.

Sen. Michael Merrifield.

In an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Independent yesterday, Colorado State Sen. Michael Merrifield writes:

On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Colorado Springs Gazette published an editorial that contained many of the same falsehoods about Planned Parenthood that are being spread by the extremists who made the hoax video.

I submitted a column to correct the record about the work Planned Parenthood does for Coloradans and nationally. The Gazette refused to run it — a disservice to its readers and the community I represent. I’m glad the Colorado Springs Independent has higher standards for public discussion.

It’s true that the Gazette’s editorial was full of misinformation at best, lies at worst. The Gazette didn’t even come close to informing us that no evidence exists showing that Planned Parenthood has broken any laws.

Instead, the newspaper quotes directly from undercover videos that are so altered that they have no use as evidence against Planned Parenthood.

The newspaper musters up the audacity to state Planned Parenthood has an “apparent practice of selling the organs of aborted babies.” Even if you accept what you see in the full videos, there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood does anything other than offer fetal-tissue for research purposes for the cost of processing. That’s legal.

Next, the Gazette claims there’s an “overwhelming and growing body of evidence” that “abortion providers solicit the sale of human organs.” There is no such body of evidence much less a growing one. There’s no proof that the tissue is provided by donors on anything but a voluntary basis.

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GOP activists demand answers to financial questions plaguing state party

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

houseforgopchairRepublican activists blasted GOP State Chair Steve House today for failing to provide basic information about the party’s finances.

In a letter to House, Nick Lundberg, Dick Childress, Ken Clark, and Randy Corporon raised questions about numerous instances when Steve House referred to financial problems plaguing the state party, including one instance when he called the financial situation so “dire” that it should be concealed from party donors.

The letter stated, in part:

We are concerned about the fairness and accuracy of financial disclosures in state and federal campaign finance reports and the “quarterly financial statements” based on statements you have made about the party’s financial reporting…

The reputation of the Colorado Republican Party is at stake, and confidence of members, donors, and candidates will continue to erode unless the party is complying with financial disclosure requirements.

House dismissed these concerns on KNUS 710-AM today:

“I don’t think the party is on the same page, but you have to go through a process,” House told host Steve Kelley (at 38:30 hour one Aug. 26). “…Yeah, it was a little bit painful for a couple of months, but at the same time I thought it was very very enabling,”

Asked how fundraising was going by host Krista Kafer, House said (at 43 min 45 seconds here), “It’s been going great!” He added that every state party in the country “that’s not 100 percent red” has some debt right now.

“We are very comfortable with where we are,” House said. “The first thee months were records. The next two months, we beat our budget by 25 or 30 percent.

“I’m very happy with where it’s going and where the donors are in supporting us.”

Are GOP donors satisfied with efforts to address state party’s financial mess?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

houseforgopchairThe Colorado Republican Party’s Executive Committee met Friday, and sources say a significant amount of time was dedicated to trying to understand the financial issues plaguing the state party.

The severity of the situation, and its political ramifications, were brought into focus by a Aug. 4 email (below) by State Chair Steve House in which he wrote that he concealed the party’s “dire financial straits,” because he “really didn’t want donors thinking they were investing in debt.”

You’d think the ears of political reporters would perk up at the mention of hiding financial information from donors, but if there’s been coverage of House’s statement outside of this blog, and partisan social media, I’ve missed it.

House wrote that legal bills, which constitute part of the debt, may not be the party’s responsibility—and it’s not known whether this issue was clarified at Friday’s meeting. In any case, a review of the party’s recent state and federal financial reports do not reveal large payments to lawyers.

State party leaders continue to assure party activists, on social media and elsewhere, that the financial situation will be brought under control, but it appears not to have been resolved yet

The outstanding question is, what specific expenditures or loans, if any, have gone unreported, in violation of campaign finance law? Is the party delaying payment of expenses, which would be illegal under state law, to shine up its financial situation?

Are GOP donors being scared off by all of this, even if these problems are actually being addressed?

At the last Executive Committee meeting, you recall, members voted 22-1 to support Chair Steve House, after Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, and former Pueblo GOP chair Becky Mizel attempted to oust House due to his alleged failures on numerous issues.

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Brauchler misrepresents jury decision to loving talk-radio hosts

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Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Journalists have been careful to report, as The Denver Post’s John Ingold and Jordan Steffen did today, that nine jurors apparently voted for the death penalty in the Aurora shooter’s trial, two were undecided, and one voted for life in prison. So the prosecutors were three votes short of the unanimous decision needed to put the murderer to death.

George Brauchler appears to present different versions of the decision, depending on the audience. If he’s talking to talk-radio hosts, who apparently aren’t concerned about the basic facts, Brauchler whines that he was only one juror away from winning the case.

“We were one vote away from getting what I thought was the just sentence on this,” Brauchler told KHOW’s Mandy Connell shortly after the trial ended. (Listen here at the one-minute mark.)

Talking to KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman, Brauchler delivered similar misinformation at 36 minutes, uncorrected by Silverman.

Brauchler: It was one juror. You and I both know [former State Rep. Jovan Melton]. You know him better than I do. But it is such an outrageous blanket statement on an entire law based on the decision of one juror, who by the way found this guy sane, found the he committed this crime with aggravators, found that the aggravators outweighed any mental health issues or any other mitigators, and then hung up on that very last phase. And from that one decision, not only do you have Javon calling the application of the death penalty racist, but you got The Denver Post backing him up and going crazy with their comments as well. And it’s an indictment of a system you can’t prove is racist….

Later in the same interview, at 53:55, Brauchler puffed:

Brauchler: But for this one juror, I think folks would have said roundly, ‘Men, you did this case perfectly.”

Yet, in talking about the decision to The Denver Post, where reporters are actually factually concerned about reality, Brauchler tells a different story.

The Post reported: “To Brauchler, [the 9-2-1 decision) is evidence that he was right to go to trial and seek the death penalty. After all, he said, he convinced at least nine jurors of his position.”

It’s a good example of why reporters are important. Brauchler apparently knew he wouldn’t get away with spinning them like he can loving talk-radio hosts.

Despite Gardner’s claim, people in Colorado would suffer if Planned Parenthood were defunded

(Basically, Cory Gardner thinks you’re stupid – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Cory Gardner hopped on the radio said, not to worry, no one in Colorado will suffer if the health organization loses federal funding.

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Aug. 13, vowing that the investigation of Planned Parenthood in Congress will continue. “There are nine times more community health clinics than there are Planned Parenthood clinics, and so they provide more access to women and men across the state.” (Listen to Caplis belowAug. 13 and also on Kelley and Company here on Aug. 10.)

It’s true that there are many more community health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics in our state. But this doesn’t mean that throwing more money at the community health clinics would provide equal or greater access to healthcare than what’s available now.

First of all, studies have shown that the community health center (CHC) network and federally qualified health center (FQHCs) network don’t offer all types of birth control and reproductive health care. That’s why many large community health centers actually factually refer patients to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood specializes in reproductive health care–while community health centers offer a wider range of services.

So it’s not surprising that even though Planned Parenthood operates just 10 percent of all publicly funded family clinics, 36 percent of patients seeking family-planning services turn to Planned Parenthood.

Poor people on Medicaid go disproportionately to Planned Parenthood for these services, and it’s unlikely that the safety net and the health care system, as currently configured, could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients. This means that defunding Planned Parenthood would weaken our country’s already weak safety net.

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Reporters should expect to have to dog Walker Stapleton for answers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Update: Colorado Independent reporter Nat Stein’s answer to my question of whether Stapleton’s office gave her a reason for declining comment: “His comms guy pretty much hung up on me, and three emails went unanswered,” tweeted Stein. “I just wanna talk!!”

———-

When a public official starts to develop a reputation for stonewalling the media, the trend should be highlighted, especially now that fewer reporters are out there to ask public officials anything at all. Every reasonable question should be cherished. And every denial called out.

No long ago, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton declined to take questions from the evil Denver Post about why he withdrew his support from a bill aimed at making money for PERA, the state’s public retirement program. Then Stapleton shamelessly called the resulting article “completely misleading,” even though he’d refused to talk to the reporter about it.

Now Stapleton declined to comment on a softball request by the Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein about a #BlackLivesMatter campaign to change the name of the Stapleton neighborhood, because former Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton was a member of the KKK.

Stein reports:

The Stapleton legacy — or its name, at least — still lives on in state government. Republican Walker Stapleton is currently serving his second term as state treasurer. His press office declined to comment on this article.

And as for the obvious question — well, what should Stapleton be named instead? — Pullen said Black Lives Matter 5280 hopes Stapleton could be renamed after a woman of color who made significant, historical contributions to Denver.

Nat Stein did not respond immediately to a request via Twitter to explain why Stapleton’s office refused to address questions about his family’s KKK history. My suggestion is to push harder for an answer.

Trump’s stance against birthright citizenship mirrors Coffman’s

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Donald Trump sort of clarified some aspects of his immigration position over the weekend, giving local media a chance to educate us about the illusory stance of Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Trump released a document outlining a number of ideas, but the headliner was his newly articulated opposition to “birthright citizenship,” the longstanding U.S. law granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens.

Coffman has been way ahead of Trump on this one, reaffirming his opposition to birthright citizenship in a Denver Post interview in 2013.

Coffman: You know, I think we should probably adopt the policies of other countries, that you are a citizen of your parents. But the fact is, that we have children who were born under current U.S. law. And therein lies the challenge that I have, particularly in meeting families up in what is a very new district. And that –

Denver Post: You’d see that changed, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Coffman: Sure. I mean, I think we ought to look at that. But , the fact is, what we have to understand, the fact is, we don’t revoke citizenship once it’s given. [BigMedia emphasis]

Trump’s immigration paper, which received substantial attention, also renewed his call for deporting all undocumented immigrants, cattle-car style, back to their country of origin. And then expediting the return of the good ones, but not granting them a path to citizenship.

Like Trump, Coffman has also called for giving a vague “legal status” for adult immigrants, without a path to citizenship. He hasn’t said whether he’d require cattle-care deportation first. Either way, Coffman appears to be aligned with Trump on creating an underclass of workers, in the great tradition of taxation without representation.

High-profile policy pronouncement by celebrity presidential candidates continue to offer a great avenue to educate the public about the positions of their local politicos. I’m hoping reporters jump all over these local angles as we get closer to next year’s election.

Irony Watch: Michael “Heck’ve a Job” Brownie calls Black Lives Matter protesters “dip-wads”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Michael "Brownie" Brown.

Michael “Brownie” Brown.

You’d think if there were anyone who’d understand the need for the Black Lives Matter protests, it would be President George W. Bush’s  FEMA Secretary Michael “Heck’ve a Job” Brownie.

But, alas, no. Apparently forgetting that he embodies the problem that Black Lives Matter is trying to spotlight, Brownie offered his radio listeners a diatribe Monday about a protest pointing out that Benjamin Stapleton was a member of the KKK and calling for Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood to change its name.

“You dip-wads. You absolute dip-wads,” said Brownie on his  KHOW 630-AM morning show (@5:15 below), arguing that Stapleton, a former Denver mayor, was a leader to create red rocks and people like Cesar Chavez has been accused of initiating violence.

Brownie played a news clip of a protester saying that Stapleton’s name is a symbol of “lingering white supremacy in our community.”

Brownie mocked the comment (@6 minutes): It is. It absolutely is. Because if you go out there go that Stapleton neighborhood right now, you won’t find one black person out there at all. Not at all. And in fact, I can remember at Stapleton, I would look around to find someone to help me with my bags. There was never a black person working at Stapleton International Airport. Never. Never. Never. Never.

You people are so full of crap it just drives me up the wall. If you would just open your eyes and look at the fricking Stapleton development, what would you see. I bet you’d see evil white people. Then you’d see black people. Then you’d see Hispanic people. And I don’t know, you might have to dig, but you might even see some Asian people. Although I really doubt there are, like, Native American people out there, because Native Americans just live in Teepees on the reservation, so there wouldn’t be like any Indians living out at Stapleton. No. Not at all. You people are the biggest dumb-asses I’ve heard in ages. ‘We just want you to be aware that this is just a reminder white supremacy,’ said the black people living at Stapleton. God you’re dumb.

How could the man who presided over the Katrina disaster, and resigned in disgrace, deliver a rant like that? I guess it’s because Brownie is the guy who presided over the Katrina disaster. Yet another need for the Black Lives Matter protests.

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Departing society editor answers questions about journalism and her 29 years at The Denver Post

Last month, Joanne Davidson took a buyout from The Denver Post and left the newspaper after a 29-year run, serving as society editor since 1985. Prior to The Post, she worked for U.S. News and World Report. Davidson’s coverage of gatherings, fundraisers, and nonprofit events was a benefit to our community beyond what many people understand. Her work will be missed.

Davidson kindly accepted my request to answer a few questions about journalism and her career at The Post.

Why are you leaving The Post? Would you have stayed on if not for the economic troubles facing the newspaper and the pressure this puts on reporters?

I left The Post, after 29 years and eight months, not because I wanted to but because I was afraid of what might happen if I did not accept the buyout that was made available to 20 employees. When the buyout was announced, it was made clear that even if 20 people were to accept, there was a chance that further belt-tightening would be necessary. Which I interpreted to mean getting laid off without the financial cushion that the buyout provided.

You were known for writing about fundraisers and “society” events. Do you know if The Post will continue covering this beat after your departure—and it seems no other media outlet in town covers this stuff? What’s lost for Denver if your beat is eliminated or scaled way back?

I don’t know what the plans are, although I would be very surprised if the coverage is discontinued. It may continue in a different format, such as pictures only, or it might continue with general assignment reporters or interns taking turns covering the events. I just don’t know.

It would be a huge loss if it was discontinued. Nonprofits count on the exposure to build awareness and attract new supporters. And people new to town can learn about the various worthy causes by reading about the organizations that I covered.

But society coverage is much more than shooting pictures of people all dressed up in their party clothes. (And by the way, I need to emphasize how much I dislike the term “society coverage.” It implies a focus on rich white people when in fact I worked very hard to be as inclusive as possible).

Many years ago I did a story that outlined the “trickle-down theory of society economics.” It pointed out the financial reach a fundraising event has: the graphic artists who design the invitations, printed programs and souvenir journals; the printers who print them; the venues who rent the space for the events; the purveyors who sell the meat, veggies, breads and whatnot to the chefs who prepare the meals; the waiters and bartenders who staff the event; the florists who provide the flowers; the valets who park the cars; the event planners hired to make sure everything runs smoothly; the boutiques, department stores and tuxedo rental shops where those attending the events buy or rent something to wear; the musicians and speakers who are booked to entertain or inform; hair stylists and manicurists who have an uptick in business the day of the benefit …

Diminished resources aside, what are your biggest concerns about how political journalism is practiced in Colorado today?

My biggest concern is that without a newspaper adequately staffed with inquisitive and knowledgeable reporters, too many things that need to be brought to the public’s attention will pass unnoticed. Reporters need to be watchdogs, unafraid to hold any decision-maker’s feet to the fire.

What do you admire most?

How well my colleagues are able to keep on keepin’ on despite the challenges with which they are saddled.

What’s the worst error you made as a Colorado journalist? Can you name a story or two you’re most proud of?

The worst error came about a week after I started at The Post.

I was covering a holiday party put on by the president/ceo of The Denver Dry Goods. I had just walked in the door when a guest approached and asked, “Have you met our host yet?” I said that I had not. So the guy says, “Well, his name is Joe Davis. He’s surrounded by people right now, but let me see if I can break him away for a minute so the two of you can chat.” Long story short, I had another event to get to that night, so I could only stay at that party for roughly a half-hour and wound up having to leave without having been introduced to the host. But, in the story I wrote, I described in great detail the party that Denver Dry Goods president Joe Davis had hosted. The ink was barely dry on the paper when a barrage of angry phone calls began. Joe Davis, they pointed out, was president/ceo of the Denver Dry’s arch rival, May D&F! Tom Roach was the boss at The Denver Dry Goods.

Needless to say, both the editor, publisher and vice president of advertising were not pleased. Joe Davis and Tom Roach, were able to laugh it off, thank goodness. But not before I hand-wrote letters of profuse apology that were delivered by courier, along with very expensive bottles of their favorite adult beverage.

As for stories of which I am most proud, I would have to say no one story in particular but the fact that I made it a priority to get to know and write about people from all of Denver’s ethnic and income communities. Years ago I read an obituary for New York Times society columnist Charlotte Curtis that recalled the answer she had given when someone asked what her definition of “society” was. To her, “society” was the entire human race.

That’s how I define it, too.

What would you say to a young person considering a career in journalism?

Go for it. It’ll be the best job you will ever have.

What will you miss most about your job at The Post?

The people, the long hours, the pressure … swear to God, I loved it all. But the landscape has changed and it’s time to move on.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Stay tuned. You haven’t seen the last of me yet!

[See more in this series of “Exit Interviews” with journalists here.]

Coffman and Rubio’s path away from immigration reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

A good way to understand (or get further confused) about Rep. Mike Coffman’s illusive position on immigration is to compare it to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s. And reporters should consider using this comparison to help explain Coffman’s (non)position to voters.

Back in 2013, Rubio was part of the “Gang of Eight” Senators (including Michael Bennet) who pushed a comprehensive immigration bill that, miraculously, passed the U.S. Senate. It offered major border security, along with a long path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in America.

Despite claiming to be for “comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Coffman opposed the Rubio bill and its path to citizenship. And House Republicans, with Coffman’s blessing, never voted on the Rubio bill, and it died a truly tragic death.

Asked why he wouldn’t support the comprehensive-immigration-reform legislation, after he’d thumped his chest in The Denver Post in favor of the idea, Coffman said he didn’t want it all in one bill.

Instead, Coffman said he wanted a “step-by-step,” multiple-bill strategy, telling the Aurora Sentinel that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

And Coffman scrubbed the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” from his website.

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Brauchler denies “ego” or “political ambition” as he goes on the radio attacking the Aurora murderer’s parents and The Denver Post

George Brauchler leaped onto conservative talk radio this morning to deny that his decision to pursue the death penalty in the Aurora-shooting case, instead of saving big bucks and major trauma by accepting a plea deal of life in prison, was driven by “ego” or “political ambition.”

“People who are opposed to the death penalty are going to find reasons to accuse me or any other prosecutor for seeking it,” said Brauchler on KHOW’s Mandy Connell show this morning. “And the most likely targets are, ‘Oh, it must have been ego, or it must have been political ambition.’

Brauchler denied this, but there he was leveling his harshest tone and barbs on conservative talk radio. Home base of the Republican Party, on the morning after the verdict. You respect Brauchler for taking questions about the case, but why jump on conservative talk radio circuit and sound like a conservative talk-radio host?

At one point  on KNUS’ Craig Silverman Show Saturday, Brauchler attacked the parents of the shooter for not talking to him directly during the trial.

Then he slammed not only a Denver Post editorial as “strident” but The Denver Post editorial board itself as becoming irrelevant.

First, here’s Brauchler’s comment to Silverman, lambasting the murderer’s parents for not calling him up and begging, as Brauchler put it, “Please, God, don’t kill my son….”

To his credit, Silverman pointed out that the parents were likely just following their lawyers’ instructions not to talk to a guy who’d successfully sought the death penalty in the past and was crusading to put their son to death.

Brauchler (below at 11 minutes): There is something that sticks out to me that I find completely unusual, and that is, at no time during the pendency of this case have the ever reached out to me. In fact, I had people call them throughout the pendency of this case, and they continued to hide behind an attorney. And while I get there are legal reasons for them to maybe not talk, but as a parent myself, and I’d ask anybody listening to this, if your son or daughter was facing the potential of a death penalty, what could stop you from calling the DA and saying, ‘Please, God, don’t kill my son or my daughter.’ Instead, they went to The Post and did an op-ed piece coincidentally timed with three days after the juror summonses went out. And then mom published a book of thoughts—or whatever they were—calling into question, of course, our motives, and saying a bunch of things about mental illness coincidentally timed with the middle of jury selection, right before opening statements. I mean, again, they are not at fault for what happened here, but I can’t, as a parent, envision taking the path that they took.

Silverman: Bob and Arlene [the murderer’s parents] were in the courtroom. I imagine they were following the instructions of the public defenders, their son’s attorneys. …

Later, Brauchler turned his attention to The Denver Post, saying its “strident” Friday editorial against the death penalty is evidence, along with polls showing 2-1 support for the death penalty in Colorado, that the newspaper’s “editorial board continues to demonstrate some irrelevance.”

Brauchler (@ 50 minutes 20 seconds): The Post op-ed piece [sic] was striking in how over-the-top it was to me. And I get that they had been opposed to the death penalty from the word go. But the strident language that they used to suggest that somehow I had seriously misjudged the jury. It sounds like there was one juror, and the other jurors were on board with moving forward through the rest of the trial, as was even that juror. I wonder what that their tone would have been had that one juror gone the way of the others and they had imposed death. I’m sure it would have been critical. And I think the point that The Post missed, and maybe this is the part of how this editorial board continues to demonstrate some irrelevance, is this Quinnipiac poll showing Coloradans are two-one in favor of the death penalty.

Lashing out at the murderer’s parents? At The Denver Post? On conservative talk radio? Why is Brauchler behaving like this? Hmmm.

Brauchler on KNUS’s Craig Silverman Aug. 8, 2015:

Brauchler on KHOW’s Mandy Connell Aug. 10, 2015.

GOP activists allege that Republican State Chair is concealing dire financial problems from donors

(The Coffmangate red-on-red backstabbery continues – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

UPDATE: GOP activists have clarified and corrected a couple issues in this blog post, but the central points still stand.

—–

In an email distributed Friday by GOP activist Marilyn Marks, three GOP Central Committee members express dismay over the financial health of the state Republican Party and accuse State Chairman Steve House of concealing outstanding liabilities from donors.

The letter was signed by Nicholas Lundberg and Doug Childress. They did not immediately respond to my request to verify the letter, but other sources have verified it.  It was addressed to members of the Republican Central Committee.

The email lists 11 specific items, and it requests that the Executive Committee, which beat back an effort to oust House, address the financial concerns at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Most of the points focus reporting failures; others allege deception:

3.        Chairman House acknowledged that he concealed and failed to report outstanding liabilities and bank debt to avoid donors learning that the party was in “dire financial straits.” Such failure to disclose violates campaign finance laws, violates bank covenants, and is unethical with respect to reporting obligations to the CRC.

4.        Chairman House states that at least $188,000 in unrecorded liabilities have intentionally not been disclosed. He states that unpaid legal bills make up a significant amount of the liability and relate to the Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) legal issues. He further states that it is undetermined whether the party will ultimately pay for this liability.

An email seeking comment from the Colorado Republican Party was not immediately answered.

The letter asks that the Committee insist that an “independent CPA firm be immediately engaged to audit the books and records and prepare financial statements as required” by the bylaws of the state Republican Party.

The letter summarizes the situation this way:

We write you as concerned legal and financial professionals to explain our growing concerns about the Colorado Republican Party’s financial reporting and disclosures. The party appears to be materially out of compliance with federal and state reporting requirements, bank loan covenants, and bylaw financial reporting requirements. This situation is exacerbated by Chairman [Steve] House’s disregard for basic requirements of financial transparency, decisions to conceal material liabilities, and his lack of candor regarding financial matters…

Repeated efforts made by several other CRC members to persuade Chairman House to address the issues have been unsuccessful. Instead, he has demonstrated a lack of basic business knowledge and financial literacy resulting in significant financial reporting problems and reputational damage to the party.

The text of the letter, without attachments, follows:

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What kind of rotten decision-making process did CSU use in suspending the use of some fetal tissue?

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CSU President Tony Frank.

CSU President Tony Frank.

If you take a close look at Colorado State University President Tony Frank’s July 23 decision to suspend the school’s use of fetal tissue from vendors “implicated in the Planned Parenthood investigation,” you’re left wondering what kind of strange and half-assed process the University implemented in making its new policy.

There’s of course the overarching fact that journalists are saying Planned Parenthood has broken exactly zero laws, and you can be pretty sure that, if laws had been broken, the undercover anti-choice video tapers would have provided the evidence by now.

But beyond that, the description of the process by which CSU arrived at its decision, as described in Frank’s letter to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO Springs), raises serious doubts about whether the process was fair. (Lamborn had complained to Frank about CSU’s fetal-tissue policies.)

Frank: Since receiving your letter, I have reviewed the video that was released by the Center for Medical Progress; sought clarification on the points of law you’ve raised; and discussed the issue further with Colorado state Senator Kevin Lundberg, who provided additional insight. We also convened our Bioethics Advisory Committee to assess the known facts and make a recommendation directly to me regarding University practices going forward.

Frank “reviewed” the heavily edited video? He talked to Lundberg! Lundberg is a passionate advocate to be sure, but he  happens to be one of the least objective sources you could find in the entire state of Colorado, when it comes to abortion issues.

Frank makes no mention that he talked to any entity that might have given him Planned Parenthood’s perspective–and he writes as if he may not have even reviewed the unedited version of the Center for Medical Progress’ video.

(more…)

Exit interview: Claire Martin answers questions about journalism and her 31 years at The Denver Post

After over 31 years at The Denver Post, Claire Martin departed from the newspaper last month, along with 18 other staffers who accepted a buyout offer. Martin was mostly a feature writer at The Post, and her obituaries received national acclaim. Her writing at The Post will be missed.

Last week, Martin kindly accepted my request to answer a few questions about her career and journalism. Here are her answers, provided via email:

Why are you leaving The Post? Would you have stayed on if not for the economic troubles facing the newspaper and the pressure this puts on reporters?

I am not leaving because of the paper’s economic troubles. The Denver Post is actually profitable, as I understand it. It’s just not profitable enough for the hedge fund company that owns The Denver Post.

I started writing for newspapers in the early 1970s, when I was still in high school, and newspapers were doing well enough to pay for high school correspondents. I don’t know what the profit margins were then, but there was never a general consensus that it was the newspaper’s job to be extremely profitable. The watchdog role was more important. This was when the Washington Post was breaking the Watergate scandal, and the New York Times had published the Pentagon papers, and the culture in newsrooms definitely reflected the watchdog sensibility, not expectations of high profits.

Part of the reason I took the buyout was because it was the first time a buyout was offered at a time when the newspaper was profitable. In my 30-plus years at the Denver Post, I have accepted a wage freeze, a pay cut and other measures we were told were necessary to keep the paper going. It’s kind of exasperating that when the newspaper IS making money, the owner wants to make even more.

I have had a great run at the Denver Post. They liked my idea when I suggested in 1985  that we host a cross-state bicycle tour, and Ride the Rockies became a genuine boon to many of the Colorado towns who hosted the tour for a night.

The editors typically have been open to the other ideas I have had, and I deeply appreciated that support.

In terms of feeling pressured to produce, that has not really been a problem for me. I have more ideas for stories than I have time to write, and nearly always I become absorbed in researching and telling those stories.

How does the upheaval in journalism affect feature writing? In a place like Denver, do you think there will be fewer jobs for feature reporters than, say, political reporters?  Or will everyone be writing about sports?

I do not know, but I think that one possibility is that the lines between features, business, news and even sports will become blurred. I would not be surprised if there were different categories, maybe breaking news, in-depth articles, and briefs — and that would cover news, business, features and sports. I think people in general like sports sections to be distinct from the news, even though technically that line is awfully blurry sometimes — Tom Brady and the deflated football for instance.

Diminished resources aside, what are your biggest concerns about how political journalism is practiced in Colorado today? What do you admire most?

The problem is that there are not enough reporters to adequately cover it. I think there should be much closer examinations of the fracking industry, and the relationship between the fracking interests and lobbyists and the legislators who champion them.

I think Lynn Bartels will be sorely missed, in part because her institutional memory is exhaustive.

The most worrying political reporting-related incident I experienced at the paper was when a reporter — no longer at the paper — was on the phone with a source, and I overheard the reporter reassuring the person on the other end of the phone, *Not to worry, we will get that bastard.*

I was appalled. It is NOT a newspaper reporter’s job to get the bastards. It is our job to research a situation that looks problematic, and to report the facts of that case. If anyone is going to get the bastard, it should be through the legal system. I know there are bastards out there, and God knows there are some I’d certainly like to see suffer the consequences of their behavior. But it’s not my job to catch and punish them.

What’s the worst error you made as a Colorado journalist? Can you name a story or two you’re most proud of?

When I was writing obituaries, easily my favorite gig in those three decades, a woman called and asked if I would interview her BEFORE she died. It was a weird situation. I said I’d need to talk to some of her friends as well. Wound up meeting her in a hospice, along with a couple who’d known her a long time. We chatted, and I asked about her life and took notes. She emphasized the last three decades or so of her life, and when I asked about children and family, said she had none. The couple confirmed that, but they acted weird about it. I should have paid attention to that.

Time passes. The woman dies. The obit runs. My phone rings. On the line, a furious daughter who asked whey she was not consulted for the obituary. The woman had not mentioned a family, but it turned out that she’d estranged herself from her children and former husband. While what she told me at the hospice was not untrue, it also was not the full story.

I go over how I could have figured out the deception, but still can’t see where I could have caught it. I ran a criminal check on everyone I wrote about, to avoid an obit about someone who was a thief or worse, and that hospice patient was clean.

My favorite beat was writing obituaries, but it was also fun writing about how to train for Ride the Rockies, and the odd stories I ran into when I edited the short-lived Colorado Sunday section. Maybe my favorite story is one I wrote in 1989 about an avalanche that crashed into a condominium parking lot at Mt. Crested Butte, trapping three children and suffocating one of them.

What would you say to a young person considering a career in Journalism?

I would advise learning programs like Final Cut Express, and thinking about following the example of the Center for Digital Storytelling’s model of 2-4 minute videos that tell a tightly-focused story. I also would suggest doing a lot of reading, and going into different communities to ask what is NOT being covered that ought to be getting attention.

What will you miss most about your job at The Post?

The eccentric, charming people who were my coworkers, getting unlikely PR pitches, that kind of thing. I am working now on projects I describe as helping to make the world a better place for the aging. I am as excited about some of those projects as I was about stories I worked on.

Do you think you’ll be alive to see The Post close, and, if so, will you write an obituary for the newspaper?

I hope very much that the newspaper will not close during my lifetime. I think the city would be poorer without it, although the readers who think The Denver Post is either too conservative or too liberal would disagree.

As for writing its obituary — wow. An honest obit would require a book, and different Denver Post veterans would tell that story different ways. Dick Kreck would tell one story. Mike McPhee would tell a different one. I would tell yet another. It would be like the blind men trying to describe an elephant. Each would be accurate, as far as his hands and senses could go, and each would be inaccurate. It’s a tricky beast.