Media omission: RMGO funneling money in apparent recognition of toxicity of its own brand

October 21st, 2014

With all the negative attention on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners of late, you’d think the outfit might want to hide its name when it attempts to influence voters. On the other hand, RMGO isn’t known to care about what normal people think.

It appears, though, RMGO has actually gotten the message that its RMGO name scares people. Instead of simply using its independent expenditure committee “RMGO SUPERPAC” to oppose at least one state senate candidate, RMGO is sending money to do so to an entity called “Colorado Liberty PAC.”

Exactly $55,000 of the $60,000 donated to Colorado Liberty PAC comes from RMGO. (The other $5,000 came from the “Colorado Tea Party.”)

And the designated filing agent for Colorado Liberty PAC is Joseph Neville, who runs RMGO in Colorado and serves as its notorious lobbyist here. So RMGO apparently controls Colorado Liberty PAC. Neville did not return an email seeking comment.

In turn, Colorado Liberty PAC is sending mailers attacking SD 22 candidate Andy Kerr, who’s Jeffco district is populated by people whom, RMGO has apparently concluded, don’t like the RMGO brand.

See a Colorado Liberty PAC mailer attacking Andy Kerr 10-2014.

And another one attacking Kerr.

Michael “Heck-of-a-Job” Brown doesn’t want “stupid people” to vote

October 20th, 2014

Remember Michael “Heck-of-a-Job” Brown, George W. Bush’s go-to guy on the Katrina disaster/embarrassment/tragedy.

Now he’s a talk-radio host on KHOW 630-AM in Denver, and he’s still doing a heck of a job.

We caught “Brownie,” as Bush called him, on the air saying he doesn’t want “stupid people” to vote, because they’re “more likely than not to vote for a Democrat.” Who do you think he wants to see voting?

Most talk-radio rants should just be ignored. But, needless to say, there’s a great response to this one. Let’s vote so the Brownies in our country don’t get more power. In Colorado, you can still register at www.justvotecolorado.org.

Reporters should correct Gardner’s claim that he was against government shutdown

October 17th, 2014

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner took his falsehoods about the government shutdown to a new level this week when he told PBS’ Guen Ifill:

Gardner: “I voted for every measure that would have avoided the shutdown. I supported efforts during it to make sure we were finding ways not only to get out of the immediate situation but to make sure that we develop long-term solutions.”

That’s the kind of rotten information journalists should correct before it’s too late.

Everyone who follows this issue at all knows that Gardner voted with fellow Republicans to shut down the government in an effort to kill Obamacare.

Gardner was fully behind using the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to try to de-fund the health-care law.

As Gardner told KOA Radio’s Mike Rosen in August: “I believe that we don’t need to shut down the government because we ought to just lift this health-care bill out of the way and let America work.”

As part of a fact-check of a recent ad, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman explained how Gardner’s votes led to the shutdown, just after Colorado’s horrific floods:

Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.

That didn’t happen by passing a bill to shut it down…

Those votes were Republican spending packages, which passed the House. They would have funded the government, but also contained language aimed at curbing Obamacare.

For that reason, the president made it clear he wouldn’t sign that bill, which had no chance of passing the Senate regardless.

Republicans knew they could cause a shutdown by forcing the healthcare issue to be part of the discussion about keeping the government open.

However, it takes two to tango, and the Democrats didn’t want to mix the ACA into the spending debate. It would have been possible to accept the GOP plan and avoid a shutdown.

Whether it was fair to bundle those concepts is the core of the debate.

After reading that, even if you’re on Gardner’s side and you wanted to force Obama to de-fund the health-care law, is there any way you could claim, as Gardner did, that he voted for “every measure that would have avoided the shutdown?” Not.

 

Revolt by journalists against Gardner’s lie (justifiably) continues

October 16th, 2014

We’re seeing a full-scale revolt by journalists against senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s obnoxious denial of the simple fact that the Life at Conception Act, which he co-sponsored  last summer, is federal personhood legislation.

The latest confrontation occurred last night during 9News’ senatorial debate between Gardner and Democrat Mark Udall.

9News Anchor Kyle Clark: You continue to deny that the federal Life at Conception Act is a personhood bill, which you’ve sponsored, is a personhood bill to end abortion. And we’re not going to debate that tonight, because it’s a fact. Your cosponsors say so. Your opponents say so. And independent fact checkers say so. So let’s instead talk about what this entire episode may say about your judgement, more broadly. It would seem that a more charitable interpretation would mean you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong. And a less charitable interpretation is that  you’re not telling us the truth.Which is  it?

Gardner: Again, I do not support the personhood amendment. The bill that you are referring to is simply a statement that I support life. Let me just repeat the words of Sen. Udall.

Clark: Why does no one else think that. That’s what we’re getting at.

Gardner: I’ve answered this question multiple times.

Clark: I’m aware of that.

Gardner: If you look at what The Denver Post said. The Denver Post has called Sen. Udall’s campaign on these issues, because he’s a social issues warrior, obnoxious, focused on one single issue. The fact is the people of Colorado deserve better. They deserve more than a single issue that Sen. Udall is attempting to give them.

Clark: Believe you me. We’re going to talk about that. But what I’m asking you about here is what appears to be willing suspension of the facts. People who agree with you on the issue of life think you’re wrong about how you’re describing the bill. Everyone seems to have a cohesive idea about what this is with the exception of you. I’m just wondering, what should voters glean from that?

Gardner: There are people who agree with my opinion on life. There are people who don’t. I support life. I voted for exceptions. The fact is, the bill that you’re talking about is a simply a statement. I’ve answered this question multiple times, but I’ll repeat the words of Sen. Udall who said, when he changed his opinion on the issue of gay marriage, that a good faith change of position should be considered a virtue not a vice. That’s not my words. Those are the words from Sen. Udall.

Rittiman: And you remain on the bill, and the idea of personhood is conferring rights of normal human beings on the unborn. That’s what the bill says.

Gardner: Again, I support life. And that’s a statement that I support life.

Rittiman and Gardner asked their questions with disbelief in their voices and incredulous looks on their faces, like the other journalists who’ve pressed Gardner this.

The growing list of stonewalled reporters includes (with links to coverage): The Grand Junction Sentinels’ Charles Ashby, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, Bloombers’ Joshua Green, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill, Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, 9News Brandon Rittiman (twice), and Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols.

What offends these reporters, even though they don’t say it, is being lied to, brazenly, straight-up. If you’ve ever fact checked a politician, you know that there’s usually gray area involved, making it hard to say, “You’re lying.”

With Gardner, Clark said there “appears to be willing suspension of the facts.” But the “appears-to-be” part is gone now. It’s time for reporters to stop the courtesies and start calling it a lie. Gardner has been given every chance to explain himself in a coherent, honest manner, and he’s rejected those opportunities. It’s fair to say he’s lying.

Clark asked what Gardner’s personhood dance says about his “judgment.” It was a great and reasonable question. And since Gardner didn’t answer it, some reporter should track him down and put it to him again. This is weird and it’s serious.

Fact Check: Gardner opposes Dream Act and blocked immigration reform

October 15th, 2014

Rep. Cory Gardner continues to misrepresent his record on immigration, and reporters have failed to call him out on it.

During an Oct. 6 debate, Gardner was asked if he’d vote for the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the U.S. military.

Instead of answering the question, Gardner used the dodge tactic of stating his opinion on what will happen to the DREAM Act.

“Ultimately, I think the Dream Act will be part of the solution of immigration reform,” Gardner said. “It has to be. Look, I believe in immigration reform.”

If Gardner had answered the question, instead of predicting the future, he’d have said that he’s long opposed the Dream Act.

Gardner: “I don’t think we should give unfair advantages to people not in the country legally” Gardner told the Fort Collins Coloradoan in 2012, referring to the Dream Act.

“I think if you pass the DREAM Act today, you’re still not fixing the problem,’ Gardner told the Boulder Daily Camera last year, echoing comments opposing the Dream Act that he made to the Ft. Collins Coloradoan the year before. “I want to create a fair system so people who want to be here legally can be here legally.”

Last year, Gardner even opposed a proposed state law, so-called ASSET, to grant in-state tuition for young immigrants in Colorado.

Gardner: “But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country,” Gardner told KNUS’ Steve Kelly last year.” And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security.”

On this very day, as I type this blog post, Gardner’s website states that the Congressman opposes “giving those people [who are here illegally] benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.”

In a similar vein, Gardner likes to say, “I strongly support immigration reform.”

But Gardner was one of 30 House Republicans who openly opposed House Speaker John Boehner’s immigration principles, intended to begin the embryonic stage of the process of moving immigration legislation out of the House.

Asked directly by Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols if he went to House Speaker Boehner and urged him to move the bipartisan Senate immigration bill or some other bill, Gardner again did not answer the question, saying that the Senate doesn’t have a “monopoly of good ideas.”

If he’d answered the question, he’d have said that he joined House Republicans in blocking Boehner and thereby ending hope for immigration reform last year.

Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reported last week that Gardner  has “long held he doesn’t support providing amnesty to those here illegally.”

Reporters need to pin Gardner down on what he supports now and what he’s done about it. Otherwise, he gets to present himself as if he’s for reform while he done nothing to advance reform.

Colbert skewers Gardner’s personhood falsehood

October 14th, 2014

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert skewered Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s crazy falsehood that there is “no federal personhood bill,” starting at the four-minute-twenty-second mark in the video below.

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols is featured in the segment. He, along with other local journalists (e.g., 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, Grand Junction Sentinel Charles Ashby, CBS4′s Shaun Boyd), have done the right thing journalism-wise in trying to hold Gardner accountable and to expose the brazen falsehoods that he’s been repeating about the Life at Conception Act.

And proving that you never know where personhood media-criticism will get you, look really closely at the five-minute-and-three-second mark, and you’ll see a Denver Post op-ed by yours truly flash across the screen!

In any case, Colbert’s video speaks for itself.

Media omission: Gardner knew about birth control ban, says pro-personhood group

October 13th, 2014

Colorado Senatorial Candidate Cory Gardner withdrew his support from state personhood amendments because, he told The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, he didn’t understand that the measures would ban birth control.

Everyone rolled their eyes and moved on, as if to say,”It’s obvious he’s gunning for female votes statewide, so who cares if he might be lying.”

To their credit, reporters cited Gardner’s legislation that would have banned birth control, but, given Gardner’s in-bedness with personhood supporters throughout his political career, you’d think we’d have seen more about what Gardner really knew and when he knew it.

Now, with ballots arriving in your mailbox (Yeah!)  this week, comes a blog post from Colorado Right to Life, which was a major backer of personhood efforts in Colorado, stating, yes, Gardner knew all along about the birth control ban.

Colorado Right to Life: As you probably heard, Cory Gardner announced publicly that he no longer supports Personhood. He apologized for ever supporting it. He said he was well-meaning, but it was a mistake.

Of course the reason he gave for not supporting Personhood — that it would ban “contraceptives” — is completely false, and is a propaganda claim of NARAL and Planned Parenthood that is often repeated by the media.

Cory Gardner has attended briefings on Personhood by CRTL where this was discussed — Cory should KNOW better! But since he knew it was a false statement and he made it anyway, we can only conclude he has made a cynical choice to give up on principles so he would be more attractive to moderate voters.

As Bob Beauprez reminded us, personhood backers oppose birth control, like IUDs and Plan B, which they say threated or destroy zygotes (or fertilized eggs).

I get into this in more detail in a post this morning on RH Reality Check, but I reached out to Colorado Right to Life for more details on Gardner’s briefings and got no response.

Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told me via email that, when Gardner was in the state legislature, Colorado Right to Life gave legislative briefings “detailing the effects of the amendment.”

“I would assume that he attended, given his position at that time, but I couldn’t guarantee anything,” she wrote.

Media omission: In August, Gardner campaign said it backed personhood proposals to ban abortion, not as statement of principle

October 12th, 2014

UPDATE Oct. 13, 2014: In response to a follow-up question yesterday, Robertson emailed me that the Gardner campaign did not seek a correction or clarification of an August Factcheck.org story, even though the piece makes it appear as if Gardner supported a federal personhood law as a means to ban abortion. Robertson wrote:

“I didn’t specifically ask about the federal bill – again, at the time, he and the campaign weren’t saying that the federal bill wasn’t a personhood measure. I asked about past personhood proposals, in general. I then asked a separate question about whether he was still supporting the federal bill, and the answer was that he was and that, as we say in the article, the federal bill would make ‘no change to contraception laws.’

The campaign did not seek a correction or contact us at all after the article ran.

—————-

Before his recent false claims that federal personhood legislation “simply” is a toothless statement of his belief in “life,” Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s campaign told Factcheck.org that the candidate backed personhood proposals in order to ban abortion.

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is now saying, incorrectly, that the federal personhood legislation he cosponsored in Congress is “simply a statement that I believe in life.”

But his campaign told FactCheck.org in August that Gardner backed both state and federal “personhood” measures in an effort to ban abortion, not as a statement of principle.

Factcheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported Aug. 15 that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Robertson reported:

Gardner is on record since 2006 supporting so-called personhood measures at the state and federal level. These bills and ballot initiatives generally said the rights afforded to a person would begin at the moment a human egg is fertilized. The federal bill would impact the definition of a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while the state measure would obviously affect only Colorado law.

Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception. But, as we’ll explain, the wording of these measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women.

In response to an email asking whether the “proposals” cited in her reporting included federal as well as state personhood measures, Robertson wrote, “Yes, it was a general question, whether he supported past personhood proposals as a means to ban abortion, and the campaign’s answer was yes.”

Robinson noted that “this was of course before the recent interviews in which Rep. Gardner has said the federal bill isn’t a personhood measure.”

So before Gardner said the federal personhood bill is “simply a statement” with no legislative teeth, his campaign stated that the candidate had backed past personhood measures in an effort to ban abortion.

The Gardner campaign’s response to Factcheck.org appears to be the closest thing to a factual statement about the Life at Conception Act that Gardner and his spokespeople have provided to reporters during his senatorial election campaign. The proposed law would actually ban not only abortion but common forms of birth control.

When the Gardner campaign uses the word “abortion,” it may actually be referring to birth control as well. If Gardner, like Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, believes that IUDs cause abortions, then Gardner’s aim to use the federal personhood bill as a means to ban “abortion” would include a ban on birth control methods, such as IUDs or Plan B, which Gardner opposed as a Colorado State legislator.

Gardner’s office did not return an email seeking clarification on this matter and others.

There is evidence that Gardner, like Beauprez, believes Plan B and other forms of birth control cause “abortioins.” Gardner voted against the 2009 Birth Control Protection Act, which defined “contraception,” without exceptions, as a device to protect against pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall.

The Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, Sen. Rand Paul Kentucky, who’s scheduled to visit Denver for a conference later this month, argues that his legislation will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Media omission: It’s ironic, in light of Gardner’s Post endorsement, to recall that Gardner’s extremism extends to his view of journalism itself

October 11th, 2014

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, like much of the political right, sees himself as a victim of liberal media bias. On a day when he was endorsed by The Denver Post, and Gardner is tweeting about how “honored and humbled” he is, I thought I’d point back to a few of the many times he’s trashed the news media with sweeping, unsupported accusations of bias that serve only to accelerate the decline of professional journalism.

In 2011, Gardner told Grassroots Radio Colorado:

Gardner: “The press likes to blame the Tea Party for a lot of things, because there’s a bias in the media against people who believe in smaller government.”

Worley: “You mean people like us.”

Gardner: “People like us.”

In January of last year, Gardner said:

Gardner: “Look, the media is going to criticize the Republicans every time we turn around, because we are not in lock-step with the President.”

After Romney’s self-inflicted election loss in 2012, Gardner blamed the media:

Gardner: “When the American people were watching the news with their family at the dinner table, they saw a media that is gung-ho for the President. So not only were we running an election against the President of the United States, we were running an election against TV stations around the country and inside people’s living rooms.”

Some progressives are so angry at The Post for its Gardner endorsement that they’re threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

By doing this, and forsaking the last gasps of Denver’s by-far best news source to survive, we’d reduce ourselves to Gardner’s own level of extremism that, for some reason, The Denver Post failed to see in Gardner across the spectrum of issues from global warming and immigration to abortion and journalism itself–and beyond.

Media omission: Rand Paul’s upcoming visit to Denver is Gardner’s chance to learn about federal personhood legislation he says doesn’t exist

October 10th, 2014

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner can learn about federal personhood legislation, which he falsely claims does not exist, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky visits Denver later this month.

Paul is the sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which is a federal personhood bill that mandates the same bans on abortion and contraception as Colorado’s personhood measures, which Gardner disavowed in March.

Gardner co-sponsored the House version of the Life at Conception Act last summer, but has recently denied the existence of the legislation, saying repeatedly that there is no federal persononhood bill.“ 

Paul, who argues that the Life at Conception Act would overturn Roe v. Wade, will be in Denver for a gathering on Oct. 23 and 24, sponsored by the “Colorado Renewal Project,” called “Rediscovering God in America,” with “Special Guests Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman James Lankford, and [talk-radio-host] Dennis Prager].”

During a Denver-Post sponsored debate Tuesday, Gardner’s opponent, Sen. Mark Udall, asked Gardner directly if he’d co-sponsor the Senate version of the “Life at Conception Act,” if Gardner were elected.

“Again, the bill in the House is a statement that I support life,” replied Gardner. “I have not seen the bill in the Senate. Believe it or not, not everybody in the House reads bills in the Senate that have only been introduced and not heard by committee.”

Paul’s Senate version of the Life at Conception Act is essentially identical to the House version of the bill cosponsored by Gardner. Paul explains here how the Life at Conception Act is part “bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion on demand.”

The “Rediscovering God in America” event is referred to as a “Pastors’ Policy Briefing,” so it appears it will cover abortion policy, as well as prominent anti-abortion legislation, such as the Life at Conception Act, which is among the most popular anti-abortion measures in Congress with 131 co-sponsors like Gardner.

It appears that another “Rediscovering God in America” event was held in Denver in 2008, sponsored in part by Colorado for Family Values, which has ties Colorado’s failed personhood initiatives via Colorado Republican operatives Mark and Jon Hotaling, according to an article in the Daily Kos.

The Daily Kos article also identifies another sponsor of the 2008 event as the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado, which praised Gardner during his first run for Congress for supporting personhood initiatives and for favoring the posting of the 10 Commandments in public buildings.

Other speakers include Former Congressman Bob McEwen, Pastor Ken Graves, Pastor Jason Taylor, Dr. Don Wildmon, Gail McWilliams, and others.

The event will take place at the Westin Westminster starting at 3 p.m. Oct. 23 and closing at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. The intended audience appears to be pastors and church leadership.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza wrote this week about the liabilities of Rand Paul’s support for federal personhood. She cited the heat Gardner has taken on personhood as portending trouble for Paul.

Paul has said, “The same judges who wrote Roe v. Wade actually admitted this. Of course, science has long held that life begins at conception. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Life at Conception Act, which — by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of ‘life’ in line with the biological definition, in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.”