Another Fake “Concerned Citizen” Celebrates Fracking

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

A press release from energy industry advocacy group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development yesterday discusses a pro-fracking ad (above) that's been playing for a couple of weeks in Colorado:

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) has released a new television commercial featuring Michelle Smith, an organic based farmer from Elbert, Colorado, who relies on income from oil and natural gas development to help sustain her family farming operations. In the advertisement, Smith shares with viewers: 

“Mineral rights make all the difference to our small organic based farm.  Like many Colorado farm-to-table businesses, if we can’t offset operating costs with our minerals, then we’re out of business. Organic operations are expensive. People like us rely on those payments for their family’s healthcare or their kids’ education. An attack on fracking is essentially an attack on landowners like us. Those who would ban fracking ignore our rights, and that just gets my goat.”

…Beyond her message in the commercial, Smith has shared that “as a rancher in Elbert County, Colorado, my family’s livelihood relies on the quality of the pasture that our livestock grazes on. That’s why every decision I make, I make with my ranch’s future in mind,” she says.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post gave this ad favorable treatment in a blog post last month:

A new ad promoting fracking in Colorado features an Elbert County couple who raises goats and farms organically.

The idea of pairing organic farmers and fracking comes from Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

But there's more to the story of Michelle J. Smith, registered Republican of Elbert County, than either CRED or Bartels saw fit to explain:

The Quiat Companies is an innovative investment company, which is comprised of approximately fifty real estate and oil & gas holdings throughout the United States…with over 33 years of professional experience in the oil and gas business, Ms. Smith has been with The Quiat Companies since 1992 focusing on acquisitions, divestitures, and coordinating successful drilling joint ventures. [Pols emphasis] As Land Manager, she is instrumental in managing the nationwide assets of our fifteen oil and gas limited liability companies.

Ms. Smith’s professional experience includes Davis Oil Company (Denver, Colorado) and Anderman Oil Company (also in Denver) as well as acting as an Independent Land Negotiator. She is the president of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Rockies chapter, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Landman (AAPL), Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen (DAPL), board member of Vital for Colorado and a graduate of Cypress College (California).

Just a salt-of-the-earth Colorado farmer–an organic farmer at that–trying to hold down the farm, right? Wrong. Much like the Republican political activists trotted out by Americans for Prosperity to tell their dubious "Obamacare horror stories," "organic farmer" Michelle Smith is about as unbiased a source on fracking as an oil and gas industry lobbyist–which makes sense, since she basically is one.

Your friends seeing this ad on TV probably ought to know that.

96 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Why do they bother to do this?

    Not Bartels I mean, she's a hack and everyone knows it. I mean the industry. Why make a commercial destined for hypocritical blowback? It really makes no sense to me, unless all those millions really do pay for people who don't know their asses from holes in the ground.

    • Because it worked for them?

      How many people are going to find out that Ms. Smith is a bona-fide O&G industry specialist? The ad says she's an organic farmer, and it's been running for weeks now, so it must be true – organic farmers love fracking on their land.

      There's no effective penalty for non-disclosure, and no corresponding deep-pocketed conservation group that can effectively counter the deceit. Why shouldn't they make up crap like this?

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Why? Because the Governor's Oil & Gas Task Force is leaning towards making recommendations which emphasize local control, and protecting residents from pollution from drilling activities.

      So the industry shills are trying to preempt the conversation. After all, if an organic farmer thinks fracking on her land is A-OK, it must be harmless – possibly even nutritious, right?

      Audio from previous hours of public testimony was 2:1 in favor of additional regulation and/or limits on drilling, specifically fracking. My notes on the November 20 meeting are available here.

      The next public meeting, in which the task force will hear public testimony, will be in Rifle on December 10.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        I am making plans to be there and mobilize as many western slope people as possible to come to this event. You can bet the industry will have a substantial presence.

        It is important to show up to this if you support the notion that our air and water should be clean and our homes should be protected from an industrial invasion.

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          I know that you western slope folks will give the O&G lobbyists an earful. I'm sure that many will show up.  At the end of 16 hours of testimony in Loveland Nov. 19 & 20, there were still dozens of people waiting to speak.The moderator did a decent job of impartially limiting everyone to three minutes.

          The lobbyists have more money, hence their paid 'speech" is louder and  slickly produced, like that of this shyster, Michelle Smith.

          But the speech of regular  people impacted by oil and gas development is much more credible, has more emotional impact, and so is potentially more threatening to the corporate clones. Go Duke!



  2. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    Keep in mind that CRED purchased a whole section of the Denver Post to run Big Oil puff pieces. The Post will be the last news entity to rat CRED's bullshit out no matter how shameless their trickery.

  3. BoulderDem says:

    Worse than a lobbyist. She's a "land-man," which is truly one of the lowest forms of humanity, specializing as they do on ripping off landowners.

  4. itlduso says:

    Quit bitching and ask Bartels herself. I will do that myself, if necessary, after I return from Brazil next week.  We should at least give her a chance to defend herself.

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      Bartels is not the story, the industry's deception is the story.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        It is part of the story in that this media outlet which takes a lot of money from this industry failed to disclose to their customers the nature of the deception.

        • ZappateroZappatero says:

          expect very little from the Denver Post these days…….they've shown their true colors more than once. Expect even less from R's and the local energy extractors. Hey, a buck is a buck, no?

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Why?  Didn't she have access to the same information?  Isn't it her job to discover and report the entire story?  The only two conclusions you can come to is that she is either too lazy to do her job or she's in on the scheme to sell fracking as supported by ordinary organic farmers.  Either way she is no Mike Littwin.

      • gertie97 says:

        You're right on, GG. It IS Bartels' damned job to check things out. I don't think for a minute that she's in on any scheme. But she is a real fangirl of all things GOP and is lazy on top if it. She'd be well-qualified to work for the Grand Junction paper should she require employment.


      • Not that it excuses Bartels, but I'm more often disappointed with reporting these days than impressed by it. The pressure is to get stories out the door; not good stories, just stories that have the names right and the facts as presented on first blush.

        Investigative journalism is way too hard to come by these days.

        • gertie97 says:

          PR: journalism is journalism. It can be good or bad, but all reporters, by definition, do investigative'' journalism. If you can't or won't check things out, you're not a reporter. You're a stenographer.


          • Then we have an increasing proportion of stenographers to journalists.

            • gertie97 says:

              Yes, we do. Even worse, editors are becoming an endangered species. Reporters need supervision and often kicks in the ass. Trust me on this. What few editors remain are managers tasked with assembling crap reports for the bottom-line people, who wouldn't know the difference between a good story or bad one. Except, of course, if the advertiser is pissed.

              Bartels should take more pride in her work, even if her editors or lack thereof don't.


  5. gertie97 says:

    So Bartels didn't bother to check it out.

    I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

  6. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    So the person in the ad doesn't own, or have income from, an organic farm contribute to her livelihood at all?  

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Straw man alert! Nobody said that she didn't own an organic farm, Elliot. It just isn't her main livelihood, nor professon.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:


      I wouldn't go there if I were you. This is deception, plain and simple. Your question is feeble…

      No one is questioning that she owns a little farm…lots of wealthy O&G people do. The point is, per the usual Republican MO, that this little kernel of truth is designed to obfuscate a big lie…which is that this woman is an O&G mover and shaker and her testimony in this commercial is disingenuous…she has an unstated motive to love her some fracking…

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      You know it's bad when Fladen shows up to deflect. It's as reliable as clockwork.

      • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

        Actually, I don't stop by this page very often.  Even when I do, I only really comment when I see a double standard, shoddy analysis, or somebody doing something ridiculous. 

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          So you are not denying then that this…

           the tactic of using people with hidden connections/agendas in ads where they appear to have narrower interests than they actually have

          is what is actually going on here?


          And which of these…

          a double standard, shoddy analysis, or somebody doing something ridiculous.

          is what you perceive going on here?


          • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

            Find me a political ad which doesn't have somebody with connections to a campaign or a cause which are hidden.  You can find them, but the opposite is pretty standard fare for all sides. 

            • Gilpin Guy says:

              So you're OK with deceiving the public especially if it corporations who stand to benefit at the expense of the local citizens.  How evil you are to accept deception as no big deal and a standard practice that 'everybody' uses.  I thought you were just beside yourself with outrage and how considered it beyond terrible that Obama didn't qualify that if you liked your health insurance policy you could keep it only if it met minimum standards.  Then it was the worst of the worst.  In this situation, its 'So What".  A double standard hypocrite you have always been.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          I was thinking it was more because you have nothing to offer other than the usual conservative lies, dodges and double fakes.  Either that or they stopped paying you by the comment.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Let me dissent on Elliot.  True, he usually voices a conservative view at odds with the prevailing wisdom on this board.   But he is generally using facts and reasonable arguments to support his view, rather than Ayn Rand fantasy or 6,000 year-old earth theology.   If we no longer welcome the loyal opposition, then we risk becoming a mere echo-chamber, a Fox News of the left.

             Elliot, you're welcome here any time.   heart

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          Of course he is, V. Didn’t see anyone suggest otherwise…
          that won’t keep me from pissing in his Phony’Os when he serves up a bowl.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Disagree Voyageur that we're too big of meanies to let Elliot play.  Even on this thread he was asked multiple times to clarify his positions and offer concrete examples highlighting his grasp of the situation.  He disappeared never to return.  Is it mean to ask him how he can be so worked up about Obama's health care deception but not a phony Oil & Gas ad?  Of course he has every right and opportunity to post here just like everyone else but why should he get special treatment for repeatedly lying?  He makes a claim that there is only a double standard, shoddy analysis, or somebody doing something ridiculous at this site but doesn't offer a single instance to verify his claim.  How are we suppose to react to such a statement without resorting to ridicule?

          • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

            I know this may surprise you, but this is a hobby for me and I have a very busy job and family obligations all the time.  Plus, to the extent politics is an unpaid hobby you aren't the only ones who want attention.  In the past few days I had to get ready for an Indy high noon event, I had a conservative call up about legislation ideas and I had a dem message about testimony ideas for a congressional committee hearing.  And again I have a day job where I have some very contentious cases heading towards hearing/trial/arbitration all in next few months.  But I have a few minutes now while I wait at the airport for my wife/kids to arrive back from visiting my parents 

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          I always enjoy arguing with Elliot. He's a good sport.Besides, it keeps our bullshit detectors in tune. And, occasionally (horrors!) he is right, or at least has a cogent argument. 

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Agree that Elliots' welcome but Johnny Does it Too is an argument used exclusively when you've got nothing so that's clearly all Elliot's got on this subject. And BTW, I'm sure that a woman with Smith's career profile doesn't "depend" financially on her cute little organic hobby/lifestyle farm for anything much less the things she mentions. 

          It's the usual load of crap ad just like all those Obamacare sob story ads, a grand total of 0% of which turned out to be in any way legit. Which is not to say nobody had a legit sob story. Rs just never bothered to go to the trouble of finding one instead of just making stuff up.

          They probably could have found an actual farm family whose living depended mainly on the farm who really did need the extra income from fracking for things like healthcare and educating the kids if they thought being honest mattered at all. For all their alleged family values, they don't. But Elliot will always defend them, even when the best and only defense he can come up with is the lamest in the book: You caught me, mommy, but Johnny did it too!

        • ParkHill says:

          Umm.. Elliot is not a Conservative; he is a Libertarian. The specific Ayn Rand fantasy is idolatry of the individual.

          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            He's not even a real Libertarian.  A real Libertarian would be pro-choice and against government interference in family planning and personal health decisions. Almost no one in the Tea Party or in the alleged Libertarian wing of the Republican party is anything Ayn Rand would recognize as a fellow traveler. Certainly Rand Paul is no Libertarian.

            Basically Fladen is far rightie on everything but immigration and gay rights issues. Still, he supports the nasty anti-immigrant R candidates despite having an immigrant wife, probably the reason he parts with the Tea Party on immigration issues. Don' t know why he's always deviated from the party line on gays.  Friends or relatives perhaps?

            The reason his views are so incoherent to the rest of us is because they're so Fladen-centric., not because he's a Libertarian.

  7. DaninDenDaninDen says:

     What’s black & tan and looks good on a lawyer? (answer at bottom) This ad set off bullsh*t detectors when first viewed. One, it’s a slap in the face to organic farmers who turn a profit ( biz plan, hard work) w/o a weepy eyed, woe is me, if only big govt would get out of the way, etc. There is a media fund out there, paid for by you, with deferred severance taxes that provides this type of post election (stylized ad quality) propaganda

     Second, there is an axiom of fibbery, to keep it simple. Instead, the ad piles on, w/ a dig at affording health care for her spawn.( bet me there’s trust fundery going on).

     What’s black & Tan? A Doberman Pincher

    • DaninDenDaninDen says:

       Too funny that the Saudi Princes ( OPEC) are going hammer & tong w/ O&G frackers, ready to eat their lunch at the same time this ad is running. BTW, that attrition will result in the greatest boost to our US economy, surpassing any “pie in the sky” plans yet to be put forth by any political party. Saving $1100 yrly at the pump if nothing else, should be THE wake up call to Americans of the yoke of servitude to multinational oil companies in collusion with facile government energy policies. The man is keeping us down. Car sales are at record high, sadly, with the red shift back to Guzzler class of SUVs. Like there is no tomorrow. It has taken the wind out of R sails, plans to scuttle the economy before their next last ditch plan to capture the 3 branches of govt..

    • exlurker19 says:

      What do you have if you have 300 lawyers buried in sand up to their necks?

      A good start.

      (With apologies to my son who's in law school, but he knows I collect bad lawyer jokes–er, bad jokes about lawyers–not that there aren't bad lawyers out there, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, EF, not lookin' at you.)

  8. ColoFarmFoodColoFarmFood says:

    Check out what our supporters and partners have to say, not the line…

    Healthy lands and clean water protect Colorado’s farms, food and drink.

    Colorado’s homegrown food, award-winning wines and craft beers depend on healthy land and a reliable supply of clean water. Our pure water is a key ingredient in Colorado’s famous beers and wine.

    We must be smart about the needs of Colorado communities and our entire landscape by finding places to drill that do not harm our farms and ranchland or our water. These lands and resources are incredibly important to the Colorado economy.

    Protecting our land and water depends on a responsible approach to energy development.  Some places are too important to frack and drill for oil and gas. Where we do develop, we have to get it right.

    When energy development is balanced with protection of our healthy land and water: Our farms, food production, world-class dining, and local wine and craft beer will also thrive.

    Here are a couple stories that have run on our efforts, but we don't have an industrial bankroll.  So feel free to spread the word.  

    Food for thought on gas

    Growers, brewers unite over threat of fracking

    By Charles Ashby

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014


    Hoping to build on efforts to block oil and gas lease sales in the North Fork Valley, farmers, ranchers, brewers and restaurant owners have teamed up.


    And they’re looking to go statewide.


    The new group, Colorado Farm and Food Alliance, is trying to expand its membership — and influence — by telling Coloradans that the food they consume is only as good as the land and water around the farms that grow them. Full article at > 




    Fracking & Agriculture Clash In Colorado's North Fork Valley


  9. Craig says:

    I have to say, I found this commercial insulting and condescending.  Not surprised by the industry connections.  My experience, and I have a lot, is that the petroleum industry tends to have a Texas mindset where they're just going to tell  you what's right and it you're too stupid to understand, well then screw you.  Frankly, I'm a supporter of fracking.  Look at gas prices with the increased production in the US.  I know that it's not a long term solution.  These new horizontal wells tend to produce big at the beginning and then peter out over 6 months.  Frankly, a lot of farmers don't even own the minerals under their land any more.  I wonder if she does?  And if organic farming can't make it on its own in the free market, well then maybe it's not worth doing, to borrow a line from them about solar.  Just a terrible ad, made worse by the fact that she's not really a farmer at all.

  10. Diogenesdemar says:

    Fracking: It's what's for dinner!!

    ( . . . but don't tell Mikey it's good for him, too!!)

  11. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Pure demonization. Is this woman not entitled to an opinion?

    And Elliot is right. Sure she has an agenda, but show me an ad that doesn't.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Weren't you the guy who was so pissed that Obama didn't disclose that people with substandard insurance policies couldn't keep them?  Shouting incoherently with spittle flying in all directions.  If what you say is true than you owe Obama an apology for behaving the same as your kind.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Is this woman not entitled to an opinion?

      Yes, of course she is. But she is deliberately misleading people about her involvement in the issue…you approve?

    • CaninesCanines says:

      Demonization?! Show me where someone says that she and her cloven-hoofed friends are part of a demonic energy conspiracy?

      • (not) Dr. ChapsDr. Chaps says:

        Did someone say demon?!?

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Hi Doc. Yup. And it's comin' t'get ya.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          Dear Dr. Chaps,

          We've lost a lot of our formerly regular features here at Colorado Pols — the Rush Limbaugh quotes, the Slavik Video Porn (thank effing God . . . oops, sorry there Chappy . . . anyway . . .), participation in Friday Jams is way down . . .

          So, anyway, if you haven't already noticed, we're all pretty excited about your, um, unique views here and your media whoring . . . I mean, celebrity.  And, so, I was thinking that, maybe, you might consider a regular question-and-answer diary here at CP.  We could call it, "Ask Dr. Chaps" or "What would Chappy do?" (or something way cool like that) Maybe weekly on Fridays?? I've got dozens of questions and life problems you could help me out with, and there's lots of democrats here even more fucked up than I am (oops, sorry again.  See, we need your help . . .)

          Think about it, . . . pray about it . . .  pleeeeze???


          Another lost soul

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      First nobody is being demonized. Second. Try reading. You could use the reading comprehension practice.

      This discussion isn't about her opinion. It's about the fact that she presents herself as a small organic farmer trying to make make a living for her family and relying on the income from fracking to help make ends meet. She isn't. She is an O&G career woman who apparently enjoys having a little farm as part of a country lifestyle she enjoys. 

      Of course she has every right to promote fracking and she even has the right to be deceptive, when it comes to that. She's not under oath or anything. Love the way she implies she's just a simple, aw shucks farmer who has had the safety of the fracking process explained to her by experts so even an ordinary gal like her can understand. But it's definitely an intentionally false picture. 

      It isn't a small farmer trying to make a living off the farm delivering those opinions. It's a long time O&G industry professional with a hobby. Pointing that out is hardly "demonizing". It's just calling a phony a phony and a deceptive ad a deceptive ad. BTW, whether or not some Johnny somewhere does it too is entirely irrelevant. We can talk about whatever Johnny you like another time. This is about this person and this ad. Period. Got anything on that? Didn't think so.

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