Stapleton not seeking formal AG opinion on moonlighting

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



One of the things I try to do as a media critic is keep track of what officials tell journalists they’re going to do. And if promises made aren’t reported on, I ask about them.

For example, there’s the dangling promise Scott McInnis made to The Denver Post about clearing up his name months ago, but tempting as it is, that’s not what I’m returning to now.

Today I’m writing about State Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s promise to 7News in January that he’d seek an opinion from Attorney General John Suthers about whether it’s ok for him to moonlight for his former company.

You recall Stapleton’s moonlighting job would add as much as a quarter-time-plus job to his life and bring in, at $250 per hour, up to a nifty $150,000 on the side, making The Denver Post wonder about a “conflict of time.”

I asked 7News content producer/presenter Marshall Zelinger whether Suthers had produced an opinion on Stapleton’s moonlighting. Zelinger emailed me that Stapleton spokesman Brett Johnson told him that Stapleton never asked for an official opinion from Suthers’ office.

Zelinger told me that he understood from Stapleton, during his Jan. interview with him, that he was going to seek an official opinion, and that’s why Zelinger stated in his piece that Stapleton had “asked the attorney general’s office to make sure it’s OK to moonlight afterhours.”

Zelinger contacted Suthers’ office and confirmed that Stapleton never sought an opinion.

However, in January, Politics Daily reported that Stapleton had talked about the issue with Suthers but did not ask for a formal ruling.

John Suthers, Walker Stapleton back Ryan Call for CO GOP chair

Ryan Call is picking up some of the most important endorsements possible in his run for chair of the Colorado Republican party, according to this news release:

Attorney General Suthers and State Treasurer Stapleton join Legislators and Party Leaders from Across the State in Endorsing Ryan Call for State GOP Chairman

Denver – Ryan Call is pleased to announce his first list of campaign supporters.

“I am truly honored for the support of these Republican leaders from all over Colorado,” said Call. “From fellow county party activists to statewide elected officials, the range of experience these supporters possess underscores my intent to work with both local and elected leaders to gain large Republican victories in 2012.”

The following are supporters of Ryan Call for Colorado Republican State Party Chairman:

Attorney General John Suthers

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

CU Regent Sue Sharkey

State Senator Nancy Spence

State Senator Ellen Roberts

State Senator Jean White

State Representative/Assistant Majority Leader Mark Waller

State Representative Bob Gardner

State Representative Spencer Swalm

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert

District Attorney Russ Wasley

Congressional District 1 Chairman Gabriel Schwartz

Congressional District 2 Chairman/Summit County Chairman Debra Irvine

Congressional District 3 Chairman Ralph Walchle

Former Arapahoe County Chairman/Bonus Member Dave Kerber

Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder/Bonus Member Nancy Doty

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson

El Paso County Treasurer/Former Clerk and Recorder/Bonus Member Bob Balink

Former El Paso County Chairman Wayne Williams

Former Adams County Chairman Clark Bolser

Former Arapahoe County Chairman Nathan Chambers

Former State Republican Party Chairman Don Bain

Former State Republican Party Chairman Bob Martinez

State Republican Party Treasurer/Former State Solicitor General Richard Westfall

 

Post should call on moonlighters like Stapleton to follow Hick’s lead

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



Kenny Be summed up Scott Gessler’s moonlighting problem nicely in Westword last month, depicting Colorado’s Secretary of State with a phone on each ear.

If you’re The Denver Post, the two phones in the cartoon would have caught your eye, because the newspaper waged a multi-faceted campaign to get Bill Ritter to turn over his personal cell-phone records for public review-with his personal calls excised.

Ritter refused to do this, even though he apparently conducted state business on his personal cell phone, because he said it was an invasion of privacy.

The Post got pretty upset at Ritter, as was its custom at the time. There weren’t any front-page editorials on this issue, but it hopped up and down on the editorial page, calling for the release of his cell-phone records, and even filed a lawsuit that drags on to this day. (Two decisions have gone against The Post, and the daily has appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.)

Ritter has come and gone and, unfortunately, we never reviewed the state calls he made on his personal cell-phone.

But The Post’s campaign paid off.

John Hickenlooper  told a conservative journalist that he’ll use two cell phones, one for conducting the people’s business and another for personal and campaign work.

He’ll make records of calls on his “government cell phone” available for public review. And he plans to have a neutral party review the records from his private phone to make sure he’s not hiding state biz there.

Former Post Editorial Board member and current Post reporter Chuck Plunkett discussed Hick’s cell phone policies on Jon Caldara’s “Devil’s Advocate” TV show on KBDI. (The name of the show should actually be “The Devil,” dropping the “Advocate” part, but who am I?)

Caldara and Plunkett couldn’t say enough good things about Hick’s cell-phone policies. And a Post editorial patted the new gov on the back.

Recent news cycles have illuminated other state officials whom The Post should now call on to follow Hick’s lead.

I’m thinking of Colorado’s proliferating crop of moonlighting public officials. Among other things, we need to be sure that their moonlighting doesn’t blend their two jobs together on their personal cell phones.

So that means these guys: GOP Attorney General John Suthers, who’s teaching law classes; Secretary of State Scott Gessler, if he starts down the moonlighting path again; and Dwayne Romero, whom Hick appointed to lead the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Of most concern, when it comes to transparency, is Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton. He’ll be raking in to $150,000 per year, at $250 per hour, working for his old real estate firm.

This works out to 600 hours or over 11 hours per week. That’s over quarter time, based on a 40-hour work week. Of course, Stapleton’s weeks will likely be longer, but it’s a lot of time.

I mean, with 600 hours of out-of-state business to conduct, Stapleton will have to be on the phone so frequently that some state matters could slip onto his personal phone, despite his best intentions. He might just get mixed up about whose clock, I mean, phone he should be on, as he makes quick calls for his own business and then the people’s.

I asked Stapleton’s Communications Director Michael Fortney whether his boss would be following Hick’s example on the cell phone issue.

He said he’ll have one cell phone for personal use and another for matters relating to his state work.

“He’s going to do his state business either on his land line or state-issued cell phone,” Fortney told me. “He won’t do state business on the personal.”

Fortney has not yet discussed with Stapleton whether he will let a neutral party review records for his personal cell phone, as Hick says he’ll do, and weed out anything that should be made public.

The Post, which has waged the good fight on the cell phone issue, should stay the course, with a focus mostly on Stapleton, but all the moonlighters should be urged to follow Hick’s lead.

Here’s video of Plunkett discussing the issue with Caldara and Todd Shepherd.

Walker Stapleton’s Moonlighting, Too!

Sandra Fish writes for Politics Daily:

Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, elected this fall, is the second Colorado elected official to continue consulting with a former employer…

“As state treasurer, they’re supposed to be investing for the state of Colorado. What if there are state funds that are invested in this company?” asked Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “There are different sets of laws for different officials and we’re still wading through all of that.”

Stapleton’s office issued a response saying his outside consulting with his previous firm — SonomaWest — isn’t a problem.

“There is no conflict of interest with respect to his duties as Colorado’s Treasurer,” wrote Deputy Treasurer Brett Johnson in an e-mail. “SonomaWest does not operate within the realm of public finance. While Treasurer Stapleton has discussed this matter with the AG’s office, he has not asked for a formal ruling on this matter because the relationship with SonomaWest does not represent any conflict of interest in any shape or form.”

We’ll start by agreeing that Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s circumstances are different than the much clearer-cut conflict of interest posed by Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s moonlighting for his election-specialty law firm. Stapleton’s California firm Sonoma West doesn’t appear to have any presence in Colorado, or any dealings in public finance at all as Brett Johnson says. Stapleton was explicit with reporter Tim Hoover that Sonoma West “does not currently have any business in the state of Colorado,” which actually throws Gessler under the bus a little.

But we can’t help but wonder, if there is really no conflict of interest, why Stapleton doesn’t just ask Suthers and put this to bed once and for all. Johnson’s arrogant response aside — “[Stapleton] has not asked for a formal ruling on this matter because the relationship with SonomaWest does not represent any conflict of interest in any shape or form” — we’re pretty sure that Stapleton isn’t an attorney.

But Gessler’s much splashier moonlighting controversy doesn’t make Stapleton’s arrangement look good, for sure, and where Gessler says his would only be a fractional supplement to his income, Stapleton will reportedly earn much more than his pay as Treasurer from Sonoma West. With that in mind, all the questions posed to Gessler about distraction from his elected responsibility, or even split loyalty in whatever circumstances might force a choice, would certainly apply to Stapleton as well–even if it might not provoke the same full-throated outrage Gessler has.

Heck, maybe it’s charming that nothing can come between a Bush family scion and his bling.

Dan Maes and race

Edited by NoCo_Indy for clarity’s sake.

I’m on the e-mail list of Dan Maes, and one he sent today leaves me saying “wow” at several points. Some were good “wows” and others were ones of being shocked.

Here’s one that made me post:

I had not heard much about race in the campaigns up until that point.  I had certainly benefited from some Latinos warming up to me as a result of their affinity to the last name Maes.  Many recognized the name as Latino in Colorado and whether I was or not did not seem to matter to them.  That was enough for some.  But it all changed when the third party candidate got closer to jumping into the race.  I started to get phone calls (this was still when I was answering my own phone), from people asking about my ethnicity.  Hostile voices accused me of being Mexican, as if that were a crime in itself.  A couple of my supporters who were past supporters of the third party candidate specifically asked me what my ethnicity was before they tentatively supported me only to leave me when the new arrival came to the race.

There’s some interesting inside baseball here that I think is pertinent to the future of the Republican Party.

There’s so much here that I can hardly find where to start.

Here’s the full text of an e-mail I received tonight, because I was on the campaign e-mail list of Dan Maes.

“Race” In the Governor’s Race

Dear ,

I was sickened when I was leaving the state assembly last May when someone from the Hassan campaign, I do not remember if it was Ali himself or not, advised us that the word “Muslim” was written on the back of some of their yard signs placed outside.  

This came up as part of the conversation we were having as we exited the Budweiser Arena in the context of how much of a blow out the Treasurer’s race had been between Ali and JJ Amment (Walker Stapleton had skipped the assembly and won the primary and general election).  The large spread of high seventy’s by JJ to Ali’s low 20′s shocked the hall.  Ali had worked too hard to get that low of a vote.  Race had to play a part.

I had not heard much about race in the campaigns up until that point.  I had certainly benefited from some Latinos warming up to me as a result of their affinity to the last name Maes.  Many recognized the name as Latino in Colorado and whether I was or not did not seem to matter to them.  That was enough for some.  But it all changed when the third party candidate got closer to jumping into the race.  I started to get phone calls (this was still when I was answering my own phone), from people asking about my ethnicity.  Hostile voices accused me of being Mexican, as if that were a crime in itself.  A couple of my supporters who were past supporters of the third party candidate specifically asked me what my ethnicity was before they tentatively supported me only to leave me when the new arrival came to the race.  Racism had landed on the Maes campaign doorstep.  I often challenged the callers with it being a non-issue what my race was but most often informed them it was German/Dutch and that I had been raised in the upper Midwest.  On the other side of the coin were Latinos who contributed to my campaign specifically because they did not want the third party candidate anywhere near the governor’s office.  They had felt the sting of racism even though they were native Coloradans.  

As with many subjects, we had to decide if we were going to make it an issue.  We chose not to.  Racism has become a label used by progressives against us if we even look sideways at the President or whisper about illegal immigrants.  Like many over used adjectives it has almost lost its significance.  We can’t let that happen.  

It was my trip to Gettysburg this past week that drove home the incredible sacrifice our country went through to preserve the union and to rid it of slavery.  We can debate the cause of the Civil war but slavery and the treatment of one race as inferior to another can not be debated as a prime cause.  Illegal immigration is a modern day issue that is splitting our country and I for one still stand strong against it when perpetrated by any race or individual of any country.  Why race became an issue when the third party candidate entered the race is something I can not explain nor is an explanation necessary to my point.  

My first speech in front of 700 plus republicans was in March of 2010 when Michael Steele made his visit to Lone Tree.  I spoke of a new generation of republicans that will move the party forward to success.  That success will only come when race is not an issue but immigration is.  We seemed to have taken the life issue out of the spot light in 2010 without it losing its significance as an issue.  Except for one or two single issue life groups that cause more damage than good (a subject for another article) life was not in the spotlight this season at GOP events.   The sooner single issue illegal immigration fans learn the same lesson the better off the GOP will be.

Wow.

There’s good nuggets in here, but when I read about the causes of the CIvil War not having to do with slavery, my mind starts to wander.  

2010′s Top Story: Inside a Broken Wave

Across the country, the 2010 election will be recorded as an historic defeat for the Democratic Party. From the sweeping wins in state legislatures we discussed earlier for the GOP to the biggest loss for Democrats in the U.S. House in many decades, these midterm elections saw the usual trend of a new President’s first midterm going badly for his party magnified, with a few notable exceptions, into a rout.

That the state of Colorado was one of those exceptions is the result of well over a year of hard work by highly dedicated Democratic campaign staff raising funds and chasing ballots, combined with key individual scandals that broke up the Republican ticket just enough for Democrats to pull out something they can call a victory here. That Democrats were able to win in the highest-profile statewide races, namely U.S. Senate and the governor’s race, but lose three other less prominent statewide contests, shows where Democrats were able to stave off through pugnacity and timely investment their “wave” backed opponents–and where they weren’t.

But above all, the GOP in Colorado blew the greatest opportunity for a sweeping victory that they had since they began losing elections here in 2004. For a host of reasons including the ongoing economic recovery, the fading of recent polarizing battles over economic recovery spending and health reform from memory, and an aging, in many cases already-beaten bench of contenders for high office, the Colorado GOP’s best opportunity to start undoing the long-term damage done to its prospects in recent years was this year; and they failed to take advantage.

Reacting desperately to their failure to thrive on the national “wave” that resulted in wipeouts for Democrats all around the nation, Colorado Republicans pushed every chip in the center of the table in 2010, and we believe it’s going to cost them at the polls in future elections. Republicans alienated Latinos, the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the United States, with Tom Tancredo, and women with Ken Buck. Internal strife, fault lines that trace back to the battle over 2005′s Referendum C and even before, racked the party from the earliest stages of the primaries.

Republicans bowed to the extremist “Tea Party” to win primaries and chase the myth of their influence, and they made insane claims and promises that they cannot possibly keep in the process–like Scott Tipton’s “plan” to cut the government in half, and Walker Stapleton’s blatherings about schools “competing with prisons” for funds. They elected some positively crazy new people in the legislature like Kathleen Conti; who are going to feed material to the Democrats for as long as they are in office, and who they may come to regret lending their brand.

2010 served as a powerful validator of the reasons we’ve been giving for years that success has eluded the GOP: in Colorado, Republicans could win; and have won in past elections by running moderate, trustworthy candidates who don’t seek office on a platform of tearing the civic institutions of this state to the ground. But instead, the GOP in this state has veered toward thoughtless ideologues and wedge-issue obsessed embarrassments in recent years, while Democrats have been able to present themselves as responsible (and restrained) leaders who are serious about governing–and protecting the basic things everybody values. Things that will make even the most fickle and impressionable voter stop and think.

Unless that changes–and it hasn’t since Democrats started winning elections in Colorado a little over six years ago, with the GOP only moving farther right in response–the result will not.

Live Blog: Journalism and the 2010 Election

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



With the Rocky Mountain News gone and journalism in the midst of major changes, did Denver media outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2010 election? What were the journalistic triumphs and lapses during the election cycle?

Join us for a live blog covering a panel of five Colorado journalists discussing how the news media covered the 2010 election. The forum gets under way at 2 p.m. in the 2nd floor Terrace Room at the Lawrence Street Center, 1380 Lawrence St., in downtown Denver.

The panelists are:

Charles Ashby, Political Reporter, Grand Junction Sentinel

Curtis Hubbard, Political Editor, The Denver Post

Adam Schrager, Political Reporter, 9News, Producer/Host YOUR SHOW

Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, KDVR Fox 31 and KWGN TV

Kristen Wyatt, Reporter, Associated Press

Colorado Statesman political reporter Ernest Luning will be live-blogging the discussion here at Colorado Pols starting at 2 p.m.

Paul Teske, Dean of UCD School of Public Affairs, one of the panel’s sponsors, will offer introductory remarks and Jason Salzman will moderate.The discussion will be driven by questions from the audience.

Your live-blogger will be able to pass on questions submitted below, so have at it!

1:57 p.m. - The crowd is gathering for the big discussion. Organizers might have been optimistic booking a room with about 150 seats — only 17 people are here so far, including panelists, UCD staff and technical crews — but the School of Public Affairs has done a great job setting things up.

2:02 p.m. - Another dozen or so audience members have arrived, including at least a couple reporters with notepads, laptops and smartphones out. Still plenty of seats in case anyone in the vicinity of 14th and Lawrence wants to stop by.

2:08 p.m. - Some statehouse Dems have shown up. Rep. Nancy Todd and House Majority Communications Director Katie Reinisch — who is departing her position soon to open a frozen yogurt shop — are here. Hickenlooper campaign spokesman George Merritt just walked in. So the discussion won’t just be journalists talking about journalism, there will be some politicos here too.

2:15 p.m. – The forum is getting started. Jason Salzman credits Media Matters for inspiring this discussion, based on post-election panels the media watchdog organization sponsored after the last election.

Colorado Pols gets a shout-out — a commentator on this site said this panel would be print and broadcast journalists kissing up and back-slapping. We’ll see.

Salzman says non-traditional political coverage will be discussed, but the panelists are unapologetically from traditional print and broadcast media. This was also in response to a remark made by a Colorado Pols contributor when news about this panel was posted here last week.

2:17 p.m. - Ashby says the Rocky closing has had an effect on coverage, but it’s an open question whether other media picked up the slack. (His wife worked at the Rocky.) Thinks people were well served getting information. Different perspectives on the same story around the state. “When you add bloggers and online coverage, you get more.”

Hubbard, the Post’s political editor, says he is the panelist who probably misses the Rocky the most. He used to start his day seeing what the competition had that he didn’t. Now he looks at a number of outlets. The Post didn’t change the way it covers elections because the Rocky is gone, takes charge seriously. Feels The Post did well providing coverage this season. Would the paper have benefitted from having the Rocky as a competitor? Yes. Fascinates Hubbard to be working with political reporter Lynn Bartels instead of working against her.

Hubbard continues: Scope changed this cycle — focused more on local coverage, so less on 5th and 3rd congressional districts than might have been seen in previous elections.

Schrager says whenever community loses a gatekeeper, it’s a challenge. There has been a proliferation of advocates who label themselves as media. Democracy is a participatory sport — no excuse for voters not to be educated. You want to know about votes, they’re easily at hand. Yet when a community loses an advocate for the community — not advocate for a party, platform or approach to issues — that’s depressing. We should all encourage journalism — it’s the only industry that’s referred to in the First Amendment.

Schrager continues: The goal is to make un-user-friendly institution (government) more user friendly. Asked questions of candidates, including those posed by viewers, and focused on political advertising. Doing all those ad checks gives reporters the opportunity to discuss issues TV news doesn’t usually address. For example, Senate race had the 17th Amendment as a topic — rare to discuss that on TV news.

Viewers need to be active and skeptical, Schrager adds. That means everyone has to ask questions. If you don’t get a good answer, follow up and seek out your own answer. Nontraditional media is a condemnation of old media, that it’s not delivering the news — but it ultimately rests on readers and viewers.

2:28 p.m. - Stokols says Channels 4 and 7 don’t commit to covering politics every day. Channel 7 will cover a story when it thinks it can get a big scoop and promote it. Reporters in town more about promoting themselves, others in town more about engaging and educating the public. There’s a wide audience that isn’t on Colorado Pols and reading blogs all day — one way to reach them is through TV. There’s a lot of information out there. For people actively looking for it, it’s easy to find, but if you’re not actively pursuing it, it’s harder to find. What might decide elections is TV commercials.

“Sadly,” Stokols says, a handful of journalists can’t match the messaging of unchecked millions of dollars in advertising. We saw that in this election “maybe writ larger than ever before,” cites Senate race as example.

You see this in how Senate candidates run campaigns — limit appearances, don’t make candidate available, count on only a couple reporters showing up at events. Then all voters have to go on is the constant TV advertising. Message in that race: Michael Bennet thinks Ken Buck might be crazy. That’s what a lot of voters had to go on.

Wyatt arrived in town just before the Rocky closed so doesn’t have a perspective on how things have changed since Denver was a two-daily town. No shortage of information. New media benefits campaigns — campaigns able to drive message through traditional media. More interest from her bosses not in substantive journalism but in the kinds of stories Politico and blogs have. Everyone’s after page views.

2:33 pm. - Kathleen Beatty from the UCD School of Public Affairs has the first question. In view of proliferation of blogs, ability to select TV journalism in line with your own point of view — to what extent are people losing info based on the sources they pick?

Ashby says when he started in journalism, newspapers were general circulation. Television built a single community many decades ago, but now everything is splitting up again. People are hearing what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. If all you’re interested in is quilting, you’re not going to get a slap in the face saying “hey you need to know what’s going on over here!” Some people need to know about things and are missing out. Vitriol proliferates because of this.

Hubbard says he “will echo that.” He gets calls from readers — this cycle he noticed first time, people would criticize them for not covering something when in fact the Post had. What happened was the Post broke the story long ago and then the reader’s favorite outlet would finally pick it up. Danger of being in echo chamber, only seeking information that confirms world view. “We try, believe it or not, to operate in that middle ground.”

Hubbard: Whether it’s talk radio, internet or niche publications, people can stay within their own zones quite easily. But the question is, where are the unaffiliated voters? They’re not watching Rachel Maddow or FoxNews — they’re in a different place and traditional media’s challenge is to engage them. It’s something the Post is giving some thought to.

Schrager says his dad says you’re happier if you hang out with people who speak in commas and question marks, not exclamation points. Now it’s not only louder but more selfish. KUSA, Post and UCD had a forum on health care reform — lots of people engaged in this. One person stood up and insisted on yelling, interrupting the event. “I was thoroughly depressed after the event,” Schrager says. “We found common ground” in the forum, but one individual spoiled it for Schrager. People have to compromise and find common ground with others, but politics seems to have become more selfish. This “vexes” him, he says, and becomes worse with every election.

Stokols says the polarized environment makes it tougher to do his job. He works for a station that has “FOX” in its name, so even though he’s not associated with the national FoxNews cable station, people presuppose otherwise. People expect coverage from Fox31 to echo coverage from the national cable channel and people are surprised when it doesn’t. People often don’t have questions, they’re looking for support for their positions.

Wyatt says it’s often people have the answers and are looking for support, but that might not be new.

2:46 p.m. - Matt Arnold, organizer of Clear the Bench, says he got more coverage for his campaign in the New York Times than he did in the Denver Post. Arnold says the issue didn’t hit broadcast news and barely hit print.

Ashby says it wasn’t the only issue in the state. Fewer journalists, more issues, less space — how much can we do? He says Clear the Bench was unique statewide, but wasn’t brand new, other efforts have been similar locally and in other states. Not trying to offer an excuse, but there are “things that are, frankly, bigger,” including governor’s race, tea party and other things. Would like to cover everything but do what we can.

Hubbard says Clear the Bench was covered by judicial desk, not his political desk, but he thinks the Post covered it more than the New York Times did. It is a news judgment — looking for issues that resonate with readers. Voters in Larimer County educated themselves on judges involved in the Tim Masters case. We didn’t cover it to your liking, but we didn’t ignore it, Hubbard tells Arnold.

2:52 p.m. - Big issue covering the statehouse?

Budget cuts. Budget cuts.

Stokols says education reform, how new leadership in the House plays out, how Hickenlooper manages the split legislature. He adds to previous question — regrets he didn’t have a staff but also regrets having to cover “Is Dan Maes quitting today?” time after time, but that was a pressing story each day it came up. Regrets not covering 3rd district, treasurer’s race, attorney general’s race too.

Schrager says what people might not realize is he and Eli are “bureaus of one.” Streamed Clear the Bench debate — did 9News cover everything well enough? It’s a participatory sport, folks, people got a start.

2:55 p.m. - Question on McInnis story, how it came about — seemed like it came from routine background checks, is that what happened? And why did it take until July?

Hubbard says Karen Crummy was assigned to governor’s race at start of race. She was charged with doing her best “not to be distracted by the shiny object,” instead come up with stories on who these people are, what makes them tick. Crummy noticed $150,000 payment from Hasan Foundation — as Salzman pointed out later, total was $300,000 — and this raised eyebrows. Post started digging as soon as they got draft water articles from the McInnis campaign. Went through “countless” other floor speeches and op-eds McInnis had written, as well as for other candidates. Maes took history working undercover in Liberal, Kan., off his website and this turned into a story too.

Question — if Rocky had been around, would Post have done it faster, maybe early enough for Republicans to know in time to pick someone else?

Hubbard says they got word 7News had the story the afternoon they were putting it to bed “for tomorrow’s paper,” so put an abbreviated version online. Lesson: Can’t sit on news.

Instead of having a single reporter do it, might have had a “flood the zone” strategy if the Rocky had still been in competition.

Ashby says to get it first isn’t as important as getting it right. Sometimes the competition can make you do that.

3:01 p.m. - Question – What’s criteria for covering minor parties?

Hubbard says Tom Tncredo was covered. Generally threshold is 10 percent support. Paper has limited resources, can do a good job covering, say, the two major party Senate candidates, not all 11. Everyone learned more about American Constitution Party because Tancredo “hijacked” their spot on the ballot.

Ashby says libertarians get coverage some places because they do well.

3:04 p.m. – Question: Was national coverage of Colorado stories a resource or competition?

Hubbard says national coverage is not competition except for new media in D.C., Politico being the prime example. If national networks or Jon Stewart are covering something, it’s because it’s already known in Colorado.

Ashby says it was nice when Colorado Pols linked to his stories because of its beef with The Post, because it used to be his scoops would get swallowed up by coverage by bigger outlets.

Stokols says national media often bit on stories pushed by advocacy groups — using the Ken Buck “buyer’s remorse” story as an example — that local media would often pass by.

Hubbard says Post is “trying very hard to give credit where credit is due,” and adds that this is a sea change in the culture. If the Post is going to ask for credit when its work is picked up, it should extend the same credit.

3:09 p.m. – Question: What do you do poorly, what will you improve?

Wyatt says editors sometimes want stories to fit a narrative — is Ken Buck similar to Christine O’Donnell? — and this can skew things.

Schrager says media makes a multidimensional world two-dimensional. Questions submitted by readers are encouraging in their breadth, but in the end you can’t ask every question because of time and space limitations. He says local TV coverage was “hands down” better than it’s ever been, in part because everyone was checking ads.

Schrager says he was more disappointed with the political crowd this year. Rep. Betsy Markey was the first candidate in history to turn down a 9News debate, for instance. Covering politics at the expense of policy is frustrating to him.

Hubbard says involving the audience to a greater extent is crucial.

3:15 p.m. - Can old media and the blogs work together?

Ashby says political reporters are skeptics and get spun all the time. He says he never reads an article in a magazine until he knows the author, so when info comes in from unknown sources, he’s less apt to dive right in.

Stokols says he’ll look at Colorado Independent stories with more of a grain of salt, but if reporters know where they’re coming from, they’re valuable.

3:19 p.m. - State Rep.-elect Rhonda Fields wants to know why Post endorsed Ryan Frazier over Ed Perlmutter.

Hubbard says editorial page editor will invite candidates in for discussions and questions. Then editorial board decides who to endorse for whatever reason. Hubbard says he doesn’t participate in discussions so can’t say how they work, but perception of involvement of newsroom in the process led him to decline to sit in on interviews this year. He adds that, as a voter, he only uses endorsements for down-ticket races. “Raise your hand if the Denver Post endorsement swayed you on a major statewide race,” he says, skeptical it did for anyone here.

Ashby says endorsements don’t affect his coverage at all.

Stokols notes TV stations don’t endorse but points out without the Rocky, there’s no counter to the Post when it comes to big statewide endorsements. Question came up after Post reported on McInnis plagiarism and Maes “Serpico” incidents, and then the Post editorialized both should get out of the race. Maybe it’s because the Post is the last big paper standing.

3:25 p.m. - How do political stories make it onto the air or front page when there’s mayhem, sports and weather competing for space or time?

Stokols says there’s often a battle to get things on the air because some would rather see sports or weather.

Schrager points to the public file each broadcast station has. He encourages viewers who feel stations aren’t doing enough political coverage to file letters.

3:27 p.m. - It’s the last question of the panel discussion: What was the most fun story to cover?

Ashby says “very broadly” the governor’s race. It was tiring, because so much broke so fast.

Wyatt says covering medical marijuana was most fun because it was fascinating and strange to anyone out of state.

Hubbard says Walker Stapleton’s “doo-doo sandwich” remark was the most fun.

3:28 p.m. – And it’s a wrap. Attendance was good — maybe 40-50 people. Thanks for reading and feel free to discuss any of the topics raised during the forum.

Walker Stapleton’s Hit-and-Run: As Bad as You Thought?

The campaign of Colorado Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton released long-awaited documents yesterday related to his DUI arrest in 1999, an arrest that became a major point of contention in the closing days of his heated (and successful) campaign against incumbent Cary Kennedy. Reporter Tim Hoover of the Denver newspaper wrote today’s story based on the original police reports on the accident provided by Stapleton. In San Francisco, where the incident occurred, police reports are not considered public records; Stapleton, or another party to the incident, were the only ones who could legally request them.

And folks, there appears to be a very good reason why Stapleton “couldn’t” produce this report before the election–a serious lack of exonerating information. The police report describes a “loud and belligerent” Stapleton attempting to leave the scene of the accident, even after police followed him with their lights on. According to this report, the biggest reason Stapleton was unsuccessful in fleeing the scene was the damage his Jeep had suffered in the accident. The report says Stapleton then got out of his disabled vehicle strongly smelling of alcohol, and was “unsteady on his feet” in addition to loud and belligerent.

In short, it sounds about as bad as those “liberal smear merchants” always said it was.

The court records we originally released in this case last month do make reference to “injured pedestrians,” but the Colorado Independent’s reporting clarified that these were passengers in the taxi involved in the accident. Ginger Vasquez’s account of the collision, which generally comports with the facts in all of these records, was published by the Independent in detail before the election.

Stapleton claims in today’s story that there are yet more documents in the case he is trying to get his hands on, including documents that explain–presumably in a manner favorable to Stapleton–why the charge of leaving the scene of the accident was dropped. We’ll have to take his now-questionable word on that, though it’s been suggested to us that none of the facts as reported need to change for Stapleton to have simply accepted a plea bargain from an overburdened court system. Meaning that those exculpatory details waiting just over the horizon, like Stapleton told you these police reports contained before he won the election, may well not exist at all.

Unfortunately for the voters, it’s too late now for anything other than “buyer’s remorse.”

Winners and Losers, Part One (Or, Just the Winners)

With the dust from the 2010 election (mostly) settled, it’s time for our Winners & Losers. Today we’ll give you the Winners, and tomorrow, the Losers.

Click below to read about the big Winners of 2010…

WINNERS

Michael Bennet

In a huge Republican year, in the most expensive and competitive Senate race in the country, Bennet was elected in his first-ever campaign for office. Two years ago today, 99% of Coloradans had never heard of Michael Bennet. It’s been a wild ride since Gov. Bill Ritter first appointed Bennet to the seat, and Bennet got better as a speaker while becoming a powerhouse of a fundraiser. Love him or hate him, there’s little question that he’s one of the big winners of the 2010 election.

John Hickenlooper

In 2005 there were a lot of political observers (including us) who thought that Hickenlooper passed up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run for governor at the height of his popularity. The disastrous campaign of Republican Bob Beauprez basically handed Bill Ritter the keys to the Governor’s Mansion in 2006, but who could have guessed that Republicans would put up even less of a fight for an open governor’s seat just four years later. We’re not discounting the fact that Hickenlooper is a supremely gifted politician, but it must have been nice to have been perhaps the only Democrat in Colorado who really didn’t have much to worry about on Election Day.

Dan Maes

Seriously, folks. Maes was perhaps the most unqualified candidate for the state’s highest office since…well, maybe ever. He wasn’t running to win anything, or even to prove anything to himself or anybody else. Dan Maes was running for office, quite simply, because he was able to keep his bills paid and see his goofy mug on television for 18 months. Say what you will about the man, and we’ve said plenty, but history will forever show that he was The Republican Nominee for Governor of Colorado in 2010. Not bad for a guy with a failing business who nobody had ever heard of before.

Colorado Television Stations

There are probably a lot of people whose jobs are safe for at least a few years thanks to the record-setting amount of money spent on TV ads in 2010.

Ed Perlmutter

Even though he had won two previous elections, and even though he was always considered the favorite to hold this seat, there was always a little uncertainty about whether CD-7 was really safe for Perlmutter or whether he had just survived in the past because of a good climate for Democrats and a poor group of Republican opponents. Consider that question answered once and for all. Despite running in a year that saw huge Republican gains nationwide, and despite a good (though definitely flawed) opponent in Republican Ryan Frazier, Perlmutter won re-election by 11 points. Think about that for a moment – in a district that is fairly competitive in terms of voter registration, and in a terrible year for Democratic incumbents, Perlmutter absolutely crushed Frazier. And not only that, but Perlmutter never had to fake being more conservative or alter his approach to do it. His natural and personable style, which he keeps going in off years with outreach initiatives like “Government in the Grocery,” are going to keep him in this seat as long as he wants-and it bodes well for Perlmutter as a candidate for higher office.

Cory Gardner

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Gardner made scores of stupid, unforced errors and was solid but never particularly impressive in fundraising or messaging…but still he defeated Democrat Betsy Markey to win CD-4 by a 12-point margin. Gardner certainly deserves credit for his victory, but we can’t help but consider how awful his Republican primary challengers performed, and how his many mistakes just never seemed to become bigger errors. Politics is largely about taking advantage of the right opportunity, and Gardner certainly did that and more.

John Suthers, Scott Gessler, and Walker Stapleton

The Republican candidates for Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer, respectively, had different situations but benefitted from a similar voter reaction. With Democrats winning the race for Senate and Governor, there’s no question where the first protest vote landed from angry voters: The first state candidate they didn’t recognize. Suthers stepped up his game against a tough opponent, while Stapleton was perceived (fairly or not) as having taken the high road in a close fight. As for Gessler, in any other year, in any other race, there’s no reason he should have been elected after such a ludicrously bad campaign; without any real presence on TV, there’s no strategic reason why Gessler should have defeated incumbent Democrat Bernie Buescher. But Gessler (like Suthers and Stapleton) won because of what he was not: A Democrat. In a Republican year, voters chose Republicans in these three races in which they didn’t know much about any of the candidates.

Brandon Shaffer and Morgan Carroll

Senators Shaffer and Carroll put together a protection plan that held Democratic losses in the Colorado Senate to a single appointed seat picked up by the Republicans. In an election where Democrats inarguably suffered down the ballot from low-information protest votes against incumbents, protecting the Senate was a remarkable district-by-district feat shared by their winning candidates (below).

Gail Schwartz

Senator Schwartz’s nail-biting win over wealthy challenger Bob Rankin helped Democrats stage a remarkably successful defense of the Colorado Senate this year. Schwartz is one of several Senate candidates, including John Morse in Colorado Springs and Jeanne Nicholson in the mountain towns, whose success means that Governor-elect Hickenlooper is more than just a talking veto pen.

Frank McNulty

Though he’s also earned a spot as a “Loser” as well (see tomorrow’s “Losers”), the new Speaker of the House still gets the credit for (barely) getting a majority of his House candidates over the finish line. We’ve been frank about our assessment of the quality of candidate recruitment for Republicans this year, but once that was on the table, give McNulty credit for keeping things together just enough to allow a GOP takeover.

Libby Szabo

Republicans have had a difficult decade in Jefferson County, long considered the most important county in Colorado for any statewide hopeful. We can’t tell you what’s going to become of Ms Szabo in the long term, given her penchant for weird political/religious zealotry (not to mention her poor decision-making on her direct mail pieces), but she worked incredibly hard to win her election in HD-27 and give the GOP a new foothold in the central part of the county.

Democrats Mourn Loss of Kennedy, Eye Gessler Warily

We can tell you that a lot of Democrats took the ultimately unsuccessful defense of Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy quite personally, and felt some emotion when they got this today, well after her fate was known:

I called Walker Stapleton last night and offered him my congratulations.  Walker has my full support, and I ask you to give him your full support as he works for all of the people of this state…

Thank you to each of you for your support over this campaign. I could not have done it without you.

It has been an honor for me to serve over these past four years and I am very proud of the work we have accomplished together.

Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton has got four years now to shake the stigma applied to him by opponents this election, both from his family ties to George W. Bush and the trouble in his past–the details of which have still not been fully disclosed. He’ll be under the watchful eye of the Governor, of course, so anything too exotic financially Stapleton might propose as Treasurer should receive the appropriate supervision/intervention/head-pat.

Secretary of State-elect Scott Gessler, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.

It’s tough to know what to expect from Gessler, the elections attorney typically called to defend GOP-leaning clients from various charges of election law violations now charged with enforcing Colorado election law. There’s no question that Gessler is smart enough for the job. The question is whether he will turn his office into a branch office of his party. The best example of this in recent memory would be Gigi Dennis, who as a lame-duck appointed Secretary of State unsuccessfully tried to change the rules late in the 2006 elections to favor Republicans. Her actions were pretty much uniformly condemned, but her political career was over anyway and she didn’t care–the temptation to game the election with the power of her office was too great.

Well folks, there’s a fairly good possibility that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Post shouldn’t forget about Stapleton’s DUI case

Even though Walker Stapleton has been elected State Treasurer, The Denver Post shouldn’t forget to make sure he turns over, at some point, the police report from his 1999 DUI arrest in San Francisco.

In an interview Oct. 27 on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show, Stapleton said he ordered the report and promised to deliver it to The Post’s Tim Hoover as soon as he gets it. Under California law, the public does not have access to this document.

Last week, I criticized The Post for not interviewing one of two woman whose cab Stapleton hit when he drove his car through a red light and into their taxi. An interview with this victim was published in the Colorado Independent.

In the KHOW interview, Silverman seems to have made a mistake (uncorrected by Stapleton) when he said on the air that “as recounted by you, the accident wasn’t even your fault.”

In fact, Stapleton told Silverman:

“What happened is, I had been drinking, and I had been under the influence of alcohol at the time, and I was hit by a taxi cab. And it was at an intersection where I had a blinking red and the taxi had a blinking yellow light. It caused my car to spin, to do a 360, and there were two people in the back of the taxi at the time.”

To me, it appears that the accident was Stapleton’s fault, even if the taxi hit him.

One of the women in the taxi also said Stapleton’s car ran a red light.

This victim also said something that Stapleton has denied, namely that he tried to flee the scene, but his car was cut off by other cars, possibly taxis.

The police report may clear this up, to some extent, as could documents requested by the Independent, which has raised questions about possible drug use by Stapleton.

Strong Colorado, a liberal group, published a piece on Pols explaining why the old DUI still matters.

When Stapleton turns over the report to The Post, a full story-including an interview with the victim-should be run to clear up the air or pollute it, depending on what the record shows.

Partial transcript of interview with Walker Stapleton on the Caplis and Silverman Show

10/27/2010 HOUR 4

Silverman: This involves a DUI conviction. Isn’t that something that the voters should know and determine whether it’s important to them or not.

Stapleton: Sure. Absolutely. And that’s why I admitted to this transgression 12 years ago. I was 25 at the time. It was a mistake that I’ve owned up to, that I’ve been honest about. In fact, the first time I was asked about it I was honest about it in a very public forum, and I’ve taken full responsibility for it. I served my community service as a result of this. It’s not something I feel great about. It’s not something that needs to be put into a political attack ad where the facts are twisted and distorted to make it look like things happened that simply didn’t happen. That is disingenuous to voters and it’s also insulting to voters-as if voters would vote on issues like this and not issues that pertain, policy issues, which pertain to the job of being state treasurer of Colorado.

Silverman: Sure, good people can get DUIs. There was an accident involved, and some people were shaken up. There was an issue about whether those people were in a taxi or on foot, and whether you left the scene of the crime or not. Why don’t you explain what really happened?

Stapleton: Well, you know quite well from your experience as an accident attorney that a lot of things take place in an accident. What happened is, I had been drinking, and I had been under the influence of alcohol at the time, and I was hit by a taxi cab. And it was at an intersection where I had a blinking red and the taxi had a blinking yellow light. It caused my car to spin, to do a 360, and there were two people in the back of the taxi at the time. I didn’t even know that there were two people in the back of the taxi, wasn’t even told about it until my insurance company contacted me and said that both of these two individuals had applied for and received back massages. Liberal interest groups tried to drum up this story by saying that I had hit a number of pedestrians. That did not happen, and it was confirmed that it did not happen by the San Francisco Police Department. But they still did not drop the story even though The Denver Post spent the time and got a categorical denial from the Office of Public Safety of the San Francisco Police Department that pedestrians were not involved in this accident. When I explained that I had pulled out of traffic to the San Francisco Police Department, they dropped the hit-and-run charge. You know, from being a lawyer, that just because you are charged with something and you go through the legal process, now 12 years old, doesn’t mean you’re guilty of it….

Silverman: I agree. A lot of good people can have a DUI. And as you recounted, the accident wasn’t even your fault. And I could see how that could happen. But there are DUIs and then there are DUIs. Some people have a .082 blood alcohol content, which gets them in trouble in Colorado right now under with DUI. Heck if you’re over .04 you can be charged with driving while ability impaired. And  you sometimes seepeople with huge blood alcohol content and, what was yours? Did you take-

Stapleton: The answer is, I don’t remember. It was well under .2, I can tell you that. And, just as evidence that I have absolutely nothing to hide, and Tim Hoover of The Denver Post can confirm this, as soon as the Kennedy campaign, in an effort to smear me, brought this issue up again, I immediately attempted to order the police report from the San Francisco Office of Public Information, at which I will deliver a full report to Tim Hoover at The Denver Post as soon as I receive it. Unfortunately, there are bureaucratic circles involved with receiving such a report. But I have told Tim at The Post that I have absolutely nothing to hide with this accident. I have owned up to my mistakes….



Colorado Election Results Open Thread

UPDATE (11:25): The big Denver paper and many of the other big TV stations have some major problems with their reporting. The Denver Post, for example, had Buck ahead of Bennet 48-46, on the strength of a 52-45 advantage in Boulder. A quick check of the Boulder Clerk and Recorder’s website has Bennet leading Buck 67-29. There are a lot of somebodies who should have caught this immediately — there’s no way Boulder County would go solid red for any Republican.

We recommend sticking with the results from Fox 31, which not only has a page that seems to actually load correctly, but isn’t making any obvious errors that we can see.

—–

UPDATE (11:16): It looks like we may be headed for at least one state legislative recount. In HD-29, Democratic Rep. Debbie Benefield trails Republican Robert Ramirez by 148 votes (50.34% to 49.66%).

—–

UPDATE (11:12): That didn’t last long. With 56% of ballots counted, Bennet and Buck are now tied at 47-47.

—–

UPDATE (11:00): Buck has pulled ahead of Bennet for the first time tonight, leading 49-46 with 49% of precincts reporting.

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UPDATE (9:50): It’s looking like the race that will have the biggest impact from an ACP candidate will not be the one anybody expected. The Secretary of State race is neck-and-neck, but the ACP candidate is already pulling 6% of the vote. Buescher may well win this seat by virtue of the American Constitution Party.

—–

UPDATE (9:44): The percentage of precincts reporting continues to rise, and Michael Bennet continues to hold a 50-45 lead over Ken Buck. This is not good news for Buck, because early returns should have favored him (Republicans voted in higher numbers than Democrats in early and absentee voting). Given Buck’s numerous gaffes in the last two weeks of the campaign, it’s not likely that late voters are going to choose him over Bennet, so it’s hard to see how Buck is going to make up 5 points with 27% of the vote already tallied.

—–

UPDATE (9:08): It’s always fun to see those really early returns that show absurd numbers. In HD-22, Democrat Christine Radeff is pummeling Republican incumbent Ken Summers 7,875 to 12. Yes, 12. For a few more minutes, anyway.

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UPDATE (9:05): Republican Cory Gardner is being declared the winner in CD-4.

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UPDATE (9:03): The Secretary of State race is coming down to the wire, and may be decided by the number of votes pulled in by the American Constitution Party candidate. Meanwhile, the race for Attorney General seems to be widening in favor of incumbent John Suthers.

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UPDATE (9:00): Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has been declared the winner in CD-7.

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UPDATE (8:38): The old adage that Jefferson County decides statewide elections is largely holding form. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, unofficially, are doing better in Jefferson County, as is John Suthers. Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are neck-and-neck in Jeffco, while Scott Gessler leads Bernie Buescher in the large west Denver suburb.

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UPDATE (8:35): Ladies and gentlemen, your next Governor…John Hickenlooper! The race has been called for Hick. Now the excitement turns to whether or not Dan Maes can cross the 10% threshold. From a Hickenlooper press release:

Colorado voters on Tuesday elected John Hickenlooper, a brewpub pioneer turned Mayor of Denver, as the 42nd Governor of Colorado.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”

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UPDATE (8:20): Here’s a couple of developing stories to watch. All of this can change, of course, but as of right now…

  • Bennet maintaining early lead on Buck
  • Hickenlooper holding early lead for Governor
  • Tipton well ahead of Salazar in CD-3
  • Kennedy surprisingly strong in Treasurer race
  • Buescher may be saved by ACP candidate for SOS

  • Third party turnout not yet playing role in CD-4
  • Attorney General race staying close
  • Every major ballot measure getting crushed
  • Both Rep. Diana DeGette (CD1) and Jared Polis (CD2) have been declared winners already
  • —–

    We’ll update results as we can. In the meantime, please keep them updated, with links, in the comments below.

    *NOTE: Candidates in bold and italics have been declared the winner by at least one local news outlet.

    U.S. SENATE

    Michael Bennet (D): 47%

    Ken Buck (R): 47%

    56% reporting

    GOVERNOR

    John Hickenlooper (D): 51%

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): 37%

    Dan Maes (R): 11%

    48% reporting

    STATE TREASURER

    Cary Kennedy (D): 51%

    Walker Stapleton (R): 49%

    44% reporting

    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    John Suthers (R): 57%

    Stan Garnett (D): 43%

    44% reporting

    SECRETARY OF STATE

    Bernie Buescher (D): 44%

    Scott Gessler (R): 50%

    Amanda Campbell (ACP): 6%

    44% reporting

    CD-3

    John Salazar (D): 45%

    Scott Tipton (R): 50%

    63% reporting

    CD-4

    Betsy Markey (D): 41%

    Cory Gardner (R): 53%

    Doug Aden (ACP): 5%

    Ken “Wasko” (I): 1%

    69% reporting

    CD-7

    Ed Perlmutter (D): 53%

    Ryan Frazier (R): 42%

    16% reporting

    Why Walker Stapleton’s 11-Year Old DUI Matters

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



    In June 1999, GOP candidate state Treasurer Walker Stapleton was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of the accident in San Francisco where two women were injured.  This would not be a story in this election, except for Stapleton’s mishandling of both the accident and its aftermath.

    Stapleton brushed off the DUI in a September 30 debate, saying a cab hit him and he did community service, equating the incident to having to eat a “doo-doo sandwich.” He blamed the victims.  (The reality is that he accepted a plea bargain down to a DUI, with three-year probation, twice weekly AA meetings and court-ordered community work.)

    The court records, obtained by Campaign for a Strong Colorado, and one of the injured women tell a very different story than the candidate’s.  Stapleton was originally charged under the wrong section, implying he hit pedestrians. That charge was amended several days later, to charges of running a flashing light and hitting a cab in the intersection, causing injuries and leaving the scene.

    One of the victims, Ginger Vasquez of Santa Monica, CA, was alone in the backseat of the cab that was hit by Stapleton. She describes the vehicle spinning after the impact and seeing Stapleton’s car driving away.  

    After Stapleton’s car stopped down a steep hill, she says, two cabs boxed in his vehicle to prevent him driving any farther. She has never talked to Stapleton and did not know his name until recently. She does not know the other woman injured in the accident. Stapleton never approached the cab to find out if everyone was all right. Most importantly, she has no motive to lie about events that night.

    Stapleton, who has an obvious motive not to tell the whole truth, continues to shift the blame and will not produce police reports (unavailable to the public) of the accident.

    Colorado’s treasurer accounts for $20 billion and manages a $6 billion investment pool of public funds annually. Integrity, responsibility and good decision-making is critical to this job. So are honesty and transparency. That’s why his behavior is disturbing.

    Cary Kennedy has a solid record of public service. She has made the state’s finances more accessible to the public and has invested the state’s assets wisely during one of the worst economic downturns in history. Her opponent’s best shot at her? Stapleton erroneously accuses Treasurer Kennedy of holding only government jobs in her career, which her resume and several media truth tests have refuted.

    Ironically, Stapleton was born into one of the country’s wealthiest, best-connected families, sharing a family tree with George W. and George H.W. Bush. He attended prep school in Connecticut and expensive colleges and universities. The truth is that Stapleton has never had to find a real job outside his wealthy family’s umbrella.

    Stapleton had the money to hire a very high-profile attorney to represent him in his DUI/hit and run. The attorney has all the records that Stapleton claims would support his story. He’s had more than month to produce them. Also, Stapleton is one of the few people who can ask the police department to produce the accident account.

    The silence is deafening.

    Why hasn’t victim’s account of the Stapleton DUI crash appeared in The Post?

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



    The Denver Post is missing a major element in its reporting on State Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton’s 1999 DUI arrest, specifically that a victim’s eye witness account of the incident, reported in the Colorado Independent, directly contradicts portions of Stapleton’s version of the story.

    During a KBDI debate, Walker admitted that he got the DUI, according to a Spot blog post Sept. 30.

    The Post reported that after the debate, Stapleton confirmed that he got the DUI after 1) a taxicab ran a blinking yellow light hit his vehicle and 2) he drove about a block away and pulled over. Stapleton told The Post that police dropped a hit-and-run charge after he explained to police how the accident occurred.

    Then, on Friday, the Spot reported that ColoradoPols posted court documents stating that Stapleton hit two pedestrians and tried to drive away from the scene of the accident.

    San Francisco police told The Post that the court documents were at least partially wrong, that no pedestrians were involved, but the police wouldn’t elaborate further.

    Other details about the case, including 1) if the taxicab hit Stapleton’s car or if Stapleton ran a light and hit the cab and 2) whether Stapleton tried to drive away and was stopped, could be revealed in the police report, which Stapleton has requested, according to the Post. The Colorado Independent has reported that the charges indicate that Stapleton may have been using other drugs.

    Trouble is, we already know from an article in the Colorado Independent on Monday that one victim’s version of the story contradicts portions of Stapleton’s, and The Post hasn’t reported this at all, either in a story on the topic yesterday or in Friday’s piece.

    Monday’s Independent piece included an interview with a woman who was in the taxicab involved in Stapleton’s crash. She was one of two victims listed in court documents.

    The Independent reported that she was in the taxicab and saw Stapleton’s car run a red light and hit the cab. It also quoted the victim saying:

    “When the cab stopped spinning, I looked out the window and saw his jeep or whatever, a big car, pull to the side of the road down the hill. Then I saw his car start to move again. He was going to leave but two cabs came up the road- I think it was two cabs- they blocked him in. One went in front of him and the other went behind him, so he couldn’t drive away.”

    (The name of the victim is not a secret, but Independent reporter John Tomasic told me the victim asked him not to use it, so he didn’t.)

    I emailed Post reporter Tim Hoover and asked if he tried to contact the woman who was in the cab that Walker Stapleton allegedly hit. I also asked, if he hadn’t been able to reach her, why, in reporting on the topic, he didn’t at least refer to the Colorado Independent’s interview with her.

    The victim’s version of the story is critical, because it partially corroborates the court documents and it provides an important perspective for voters who are trying to figure out whether to believe Stapleton’s story.

    A victim/witness is a totally legitimate source for voters to hear from. If she has a hazy recollection of the incident, which does not appear to be the case, then The Post could simply report this.

    I did not immediately hear back from Hoover.

    New Cary Kennedy TV Spot Slams Stapleton over Hit-and-Run

    That’s the latest ad on the air in the Colorado Treasurer’s race, from incumbent Cary Kennedy attacking opponent Walker Stapleton over his belated disclosure of a DUI accident Stapleton was involved in–an accident that drew an initial hit-and-run charge for Stapleton, and that court records indicate caused bodily injury to two victims. From Kennedy’s release:

    “This ad calls into question the ethical choices Walker Stapleton has made,” said campaign manager Serena Woods.  ”Coloradans need to be able to trust that the State Treasurer is honest and accountable.  When it comes to Stapleton’s criminal background, he has not been forthcoming.”

    Walker Stapleton has made false statements in other circumstances during this campaign. Just last week, The Denver Post and 9News each determined that a statement he personally made directly to voters in his campaign ad is “false.” While the Kennedy campaign has repeatedly asked Stapleton to pull the ad, he has cynically refused.

    This ad from Kennedy, on the other hand, is both not false, and more damaging than Stapleton’s. This could be turning into another race, much like the Senate race this year, where the winner of the GOP primary emerges as the less electable candidate. Stapleton’s primary opponent, J.J. Ament, was a solid candidate with good name recognition and party support, who simply couldn’t keep up with the out-of-state (and personal) money Stapleton was willing to lavish on this race.

    Unfortunately for Stapleton, all the money in the world can’t make court records go away.