Media omission: Gun group’s attack ad appears to violate campaign-finance rules

October 24th, 2014

A “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners” attack advertisement, mailed to constituents of State Sen. Andy Kerr, appears to violate a couple of campaign finance rules.

The return address on the ad reads, RMGO SuperPAC, but the disclaimer lists the sponsoring organization as “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC.”

Neither entity has reported a campaign expenditure attacking Kerr, according to campaign finance reports, so there’s almost certain violation of the 48-hour reporting rule currently in effect.

Another problem, “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC,” does not exist on Secretary of State’s website, and sponsoring organizations must file reports. Obviously, this could be a typo-like error, but it’s still a likely violation.

Here’s the text of the ad, with a surprising last line:

When seconds count, Andy Kerr wants to leave you defenseless

Vote No to Kerr in the Nov. 4 Election

Andy Kerr wants to leave you vulnerable to armed rapists when you’re working the late shift to make ends meet

Kerr voted to make YOU liable if you defend yourself at your workplace

Kerr also voted to make women pay a fee and get government pre-approval to borrow or buy a gun for protection against a deranged stalker or violent and abusive ex the next time he violates the “restraining order.”

While criminal gang-bangers run around Denver with unlimited ammo, Young [sic?] voted to cap your firearms to 15 rounds. [BigMedia emphasis]

Click here to see RMGO’s mailer ad attacking mostly Kerr but Young too 10 21-14

So, you can see that in the last line of the advertisement, there’s an abrupt change from outrageously attacking Kerr to outrageously attacking “Young,” possibly meaning State Rep. Dave Young, who’s been the object of attack mail.

It’s a strange strategy to dedicate one bullet point, if you will, in Kerr’s ad to Young, but RMGO’s logic usually escapes me and most normal people.

Dear Jeffco students, sorry if it feels insulting, but you’re “pawns”

October 24th, 2014

After one of the meetings of the Jeffco School Board, I was driving my teenager home from school, and we heard conservative radio host Kris Cook’s analysis of the meeting:

Cook: “They had students saying, ‘Don’t censor my history,’ and taking umbrage at the fact that we, correctly, labeled them as pawns, because they have been made into pawns. I’m sorry students. I know that feels insulting. But your critical thinking skills are not where you think they are. And that is not your fault. Honestly, you’ve been offered a one-sided view for so long that you don’t know how to assess both sides of a situation and come down on what the truth may be.” [BigMedia emphasis]

I looked over at my teenager, who definitely has enough critical-thinking skills to understand a school-board proposal, and thought, why the crass condescension?

And Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has said essentially the same thing, that teachers are manipulating the Jeffco students.

My kid doesn’t go to the Jeffco schools, but if you’ve ever spent time with teenagers from Denver, Jeffco, or anywhere, or if you’ve ever been a teenager yourself, you know that when they decide to focus on something other than Facebook or Snap Chat, they’re amazing.

So I emailed Cook, who hosts KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, and I asked why she had such a low view of the intellect of Jeffco teens.

Cook wrote that “no censorship had been proposed by Julie Williams or anyone else on the school board,” and, yet, the “students, by their own admission, were protesting censorship of the AP US History curriculum.”

It is apparent from the students’ statements that they had not read Williams’ proposal prior to making their statements. So where have the students received such a ground of certainty that the proposal was about censoring the curriculum, when such language is in fact the polar opposite of what was proposed?

In order to answer that, I ask myself: who has something to gain by mobilizing the students to protest a censorship that hasn’t even been proposed? The only answer that makes any sense is the union. They have plenty to gain by demonstrating to the school board that they wield the power in Jefferson County as they head into salary negotiations before the August cliff next year. The students have nothing to gain from this (except a day off from school). The parents have nothing to gain. Only the union stands to achieve anything beneficial from this.

Cook went on to write that, prior to the big Jeffco board meeting, students participated in a union-organized rally. And a “supposedly student-to-student Facebook site, JeffcoStandUp” contained pro-union ads and information on how teachers are paid.

Cook is correct that some of the students (and adults) overstated what the board was doing, turning it from a “review” to an actual proposal.

But I disagree that parents and students had nothing to gain from protesting the board’s request for a superfluous review committee that was apparently intended to drive policy changes around curriculum without the support of the Jeffco community.

It’s a huge leap to say all the students are pawns just because they might agree with some of what the union is saying.

That’s like saying Cook or Beauprez is a pawn of school board.

Or that Cook is a pawn of RMGO or one of her advertisers, or Rand Paul, or someone who makes the same arguments as she does on her radio show every afternoon.

Full response of KLZ 560-AM’s Grassroots Radio Colorado host Kris Cook to my question about her comment that Jeffco students are “pawns:”

The students, by their own admission, were protesting censorship of the AP US History curriculum. They felt strongly enough about this to walk out of class and stand on sidewalks holding signs. The curious thing is that no censorship had been proposed by Julie Williams or anyone else on the school board.

Here is the actual text of the “suggested review criteria” from the proposal made by (and later withdrawn by) Williams during the September 4 board meeting:

“Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.”

The students’ statements have morphed “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder” into “The proposal said that they would try to limit events in our history that have been examples of civil disobedience,” one statement among many documented by JeffCo Truth (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0lAX5OuIoo). As I’m sure you’ll agree, that is not an accurate restatement of the proposal. It is not in the proposal. It is not suggested by the proposal. It isn’t even insinuated by the proposal.

It is apparent from the students’ statements that they had not read Williams’ proposal prior to making their statements. So where have the students received such a ground of certainty that the proposal was about censoring the curriculum, when such language is in fact the polar opposite of what was proposed?

In order to answer that, I ask myself: who has something to gain by mobilizing the students to protest a censorship that hasn’t even been proposed? The only answer that makes any sense is the union. They have plenty to gain by demonstrating to the school board that they wield the power in Jefferson County as they head into salary negotiations before the August cliff next year. The students have nothing to gain from this (except a day off from school). The parents have nothing to gain. Only the union stands to achieve anything beneficial from this.

This answer has been bolstered by evidence uncovered since I made those statements on Grassroots Radio Colorado. Students participated in and spoke at a union-organized rally before the October 2 school board meeting. The supposedly student-to-student Facebook site, JeffcoStandUp, contained an ad for Boots on the Boulevard II, a union-organized protest. This page also contained a very thorough explanation of how the teachers are compensated – not usual fodder for a student-led movement.

As a result of the above, I believe it is reasonable to state that the students have been made pawns of the union by having an inaccurate interpretation of Williams’ proposal communicated to them. Further, the students did not check this interpretation against the actual proposal. My statements flow from this reasoning. I welcome other interpretations and the opportunity to discuss them with you and your readers.

Has Rand Paul ditched his Denver visit, scheduled to start tomorrow?

October 23rd, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul’s office won’t tell me whether he’s still planning to visit Denver for a “Rediscovering God in America” conference tomorrow, beginning at 3 p.m. and running through 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

As of this week, Paul’s name was listed on promotional materials as a “special guest,” along with Sen. Ted Cruz and others.

Paul is the Senate sponsor of the federal personhood bill, which Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says is nonexistent or symbolic, depending on when you ask him.

If he comes to Denver, with Gardner somewhere in the general vicinity, you wonder if Paul will talk about his legislation, called the Life at Conception Act, at the conference, like he does in this video.

Below is the invitation to the Westminster event, which is targeted at pastors and their wives:

Has right-wing media–and a special booking agency–killed Beauprez?

October 22nd, 2014

The vast collection of bizarre online media programs and bunker-crazy talk-radio hosts has probably cost Bob Beauprez the governor’s office.

Beauprez can’t shake off the digital archive of underground thought that he articulated on these shows beginning after his last gubernatorial loss in 2006 and continuing into this very year. It’s defined him.

Calling Obama “a different kind of American than any I know” on the “Talk to Solomon Show,” saying, on the Talkback with Chuck Wilder Show, that there’s a “growing sentiment” that America might be on the “verge of something very, very bad,” and “folks realize they may need to protect themselves against the government that was supposed to be instituted to protect us,” warning, on the Internet show “Christian Today,” that “I hope and pray we don’t see another civil war but this administration is pushing the boundaries like none I think we’ve ever, ever seen,” expressing his love for the “Tea Party movement,” on KLZ 560-AM’s Wake Up with Randy Corporon, as “the healthiest thing we have seen in very long time in America,” and accusing Americans of being like “sheep” who’d blindly allow the government to implant microchips in their bodies.

It goes on and on, and you can read more here and here. And if you bottom feed on the Internet for a while, you can probably find something new and shocking yourself.

How did Beauprez get there? How did he find all these weird shows?

It’s a good bet that many of them came from Beauprez’s apparent booking agency, called “SpecialGuests.com.”

This outfit’s special guests are truly special, but in the depressing sense, and include a collection of pundits plucked from the right-wing underground. Stars include Gun Owners of America Director Larry Pratt and Phyllis Schlafly, to give you an idea of what’s available today.

On SpecialGuests.com, Beauprez’s description references his right-wing blog, A Line of Sight, which would have certainly attracted the shadowy shows he frequented:

ABOUT YOUR GUEST, BOB BEAUPREZ:

…Since 2007, Bob has published a monthly e-magazine called A Line of Sight (http://www.alineofsight.com/), a public policy and opinion resource on current political issues. Then, in 2009, he authored his first book: A Return to Values: A Conservative Look at His Party…

Bob continues to stay politically active, guest hosting on various radio talk shows, doing numerous media interviews nationally, and maintains a busy public speaking schedule.

Beauprez’s “numerous media interviews,” and the conspiracy-tinged questions he was asked as a “special guest,” are now a special part of his downfall.

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.