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June 15, 2010 05:07 PM UTC

Foundation paid McInnis $300,000 to write and speak, not $150,000; 12 water articles released

  • by: Jason Salzman

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Over the weekend, The Hasan Family Foundation posted a series of articles on its website called “Musings on Water.”

Guess who’s listed as the author? Yup, Scott McInnis.

The 12 articles, plus five speeches and several TV interviews, appear to be some, but not all, of McInnis’ work produced during his two-year fellowship at the Hasan Family Foundation, for which he was paid $300,000, $150,000 per year, according to Hasan Family Foundation attorney Glenn Merrick.  

(I previously reported that he only got $150,000 total for two years, but he got $150,000 per year. Sorry about that mistake.)

In a Dec. 2, 2005 memo accompanying the articles, McInnis writes that his work for 2005 “resulted in 12 researched articles (in a series format that requires continued research) supported by speaking engagements.”

But three of the 12 articles listed as his work product for 2005 are missing.  The missing titles are: “Who gets the water? Nothing much has really changed,” “West of the 100th Meriden (sic),” and “Dividing the Waters.”

McInnis expected to write over a dozen more articles in 2006, during the second year of his fellowship, according to his end-of-the-year memo in 2005.

“At this point I think we are well on track to have a very active 2006, including 15 to 20 more articles and several speeches,” McInnis wrote in 2005.

But only three articles stamped with 2006 dates were released by the Hasan Family Foundation. So either McInnis came way short of producing the expected 15 to 20 articles in 2006, or most of his 2006 work has yet to be released.

Each of the articles posted on the foundation website has “MUSINGS ON WATER” at the top, usually followed by a headline beneath it, like “A River Stretched too Far” or “A Start for the Upper Basin.”

Each article concludes with “Thank you until next time.”

The first article in the series begins: “WATER! It is an absolute human and economic necessity. WATER! You and I cannot live without it. Colorado’s economy and people absolutely depend on water.”

The articles are mostly descriptive, with some opinions and interpretations interspersed.

Oddly, the titles of the missing articles indicate that they might contain more of McInnis’ opinions on water issues, but who knows, given the content of the articles that were released. McInnis wrote in his cover memo to the foundation that, per the agreement between him and the foundation, his articles were “written at a level that non-water experts could easily understand.”

This seems to be true, but I’m familiar enough about Colorado water issues to know that as a “non-water expert,” I’m in no position to evaluate these articles.  

So I’ll find a few experts to look them over, and reporters should also take a look.

As a sometime writer, I’m thinking that McInnis got one hell of a deal, getting $300,000 for these 12 articles and five key speeches and “several TV interviews.” At $150,000, he got a screaming writing gig, but $300,000 goes into the stratosphere, given what was produced.

So I asked the Hasan Family Foundation attorney, Glenn Merrick, if the Foundation had other McInnis’ water articles that were not posted and if McInnis was consulted.

“In response to your questions, Mr. McInnis served as a Hasan Family Foundation Fellow for two years and received $150,000 per year in that capacity,” he responded via email. “The decision to publish his work product for the Foundation was made exclusively by the Foundation. Neither Mr. McInnis nor any of his staff or advisors was consulted about the decision. All of Mr. McInnis’ work product in the possession of the Foundation is being published.”

Merrick leaves open the possibility that more articles exist, possibly in McInnis’ possession, but the Hasan Foundation does not have them. Previously, you recall, Merrick told me that McInnis would have to release the articles himself.

In addition to the articles, memo, and news release, the Foundation posted a revised description of McInnis’ fellowship, as well as an updated photo.

Questions remain for journalists to pursue: Judging from the articles produced so far, does McInnis have a grip on basic Colorado water issues? Where are the three missing articles from 2005? Where are the dozen or so missing articles from 2006? Why $300,000 for this work?


50 thoughts on “Foundation paid McInnis $300,000 to write and speak, not $150,000; 12 water articles released

  1. Jason you really need to find a new target. Your bias against McInnis is getting tedious.

    In today’s Post, Scott has issued 150 articles.

    The foundation’s website was recently updated with a link to the materials McInnis submitted to the foundation. But it released only 60 pages of McInnis’ writings, as compared with 150 the candidate provided to The Post.


    It was not clear why the remaining articles were not included, and the Hasan foundation could not be reached for comment Monday.

    1. given that they say there is a single 150 page report called “Musings on Water,” when in fact from what I read from the Hasan Foundation there was a series of articles broadly titled “Musings on Water,”  I can already tell there is a material error in the Post report.

      The Post should release the full text, so we can see the difference between the two.  I suspect it is the difference between a rough draft and a finished copy, a repeat compilation of originally drafted series (with some additional information) or speaking notes based on the articles.  Even if it is not I am still interested.

    2. Your dogged defense of Scott is just as annoying.  So we know where you both stand.  The issue here, once again, is that Scott McInnis is acting more and more like paranoid President Richard Nixon.  Everything is plot to get him.  If he just answered questions honestly, up front and quickly, it would go a long way toward stopping this stuff.  Did republicans learn nothing from Bill Clinton about rapid response.  No, I suppose not, they tell a story first and then try to find the facts to back it up.  Just standard operating procedure for republicans in the 21st Century.

    1. My mistake.  As I understand from the same article Scott also gave speeches and went to meeting and the money included travel.

      A statement posted to the website said it “intended to afford Mr. McInnis a platform to be a forceful and effective advocate for Colorado’s water rights. More importantly, the foundation intended that Mr. McInnis would use the resources made available to him to speak, write and advocate in a manner that would elevate the public awareness of the crucial water-rights issues confronting Colorado.”

    2. 300k for writings…who cares?  If someone valued it at 300k, as obviously someone did, then good for them.  That is of no matter to us.  Look at professional athletes, do they do tens of millions of dollars worth of work?  No. But nobody gets upset about that so why is this any different.  He got paid for doing work.  Good for him, I wish someone valued my writings for that much also cuz you can bet I would take that offer and so would you.

      1. People (including you, me and professional athletes) are compensated on their economic value.

        If a Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony can increase box office draw by 100’s of millions of dollars, then their multimillion dollar contracts are a bargain.  Guess who gets traded (or laid off) when they get expensive but can’t bring in the big bucks?  You, me or the aging athlete (or under-performing lawyer/lobbyist).

        McInnis got $2,000 a page for what the Hasan family believed would provide more than $300,000 in economic value.  Maybe that’s the payscale for a lobbyist, not a writer.

        The question is two-fold:  1.  What was the >$300k return expected of McInnis? and 2. Did (or would) McInnis ever intend to deliver (as it appears so far he may not have)?

        1. If the Hasan Foundation believed that they would receive more than $300k than by your own logic, this is a bargain.  They thought it was worth $300k and it was their own money so again I ask, who cares?

          1. In the oil shale ‘musings’ he appears to embrace the notion that the earth is many millions of years old.  

            Has Dan Maes come on record yet with how old he thinks the earth is?  Clearly McInnis is on the devil’s side, or has at least bought his infernal lies.  

  2. I want his agent.  The quality of the writing is someplace between Poli Sci masters student and blogger.  60 pages $300k= $5000 a page? Most feelancers are lucky to get $50.

    I skimmed the oil shale article, nice article, fact light, but I did learn some things about the early oil shale efforts.  However, depending on how calculate it, not worth $12k to $20k.

    My favorite quote in “Whither Oil Shale?”–“The oil shale resource is there and the water can become available” (my emphasis.  How pray tell?

    But back to how much he is getting paid.  I have recently been approached to write for a national magazine, and it would pay, by my calculations, about 1/40 of what McInnis made for a similar amount of work product (1/10th the money and 4 times the output).  Now I know that having been elected to congress makes your “musings” more valuable, you have built in credibility, but come on.

    I am also interested what he produced in the second year of his fellowship, it seems like the Hasan Charity got stiffed.

    1. now on the table. I’d like to see more information emerge, but now we know the full amount he was paid and some of what he produced. Barron X, if you see nothing wrong here, that’s your right. There’s no evidence of law breaking, so you have a point. Others could disagree for a variety of reasons, like the fact that he was paid an huge amount of money, and it appears he didn’t do much.  

  3. McInnis gets a fellowship from a foundation and speaks out and publishes some material on Colorado water issues.  The importance of this is?

    If you are looking at candidates that were over paid while they were not “serving” the public you might check out Norton’s record while she was the Executive Director of the Denver Police Foundation.

    Jane Norton went to work for the Denver Police Foundation in February 2007 and worked there until she resigned to run for Senate in September 2009.

    The year before Jane got there everyone who worked volunteered their time. They raised most of their money throwing a Ball which netted 121K and also were a conduit for grants for various DPD projects. The total amount given out to officers, widows and children was $83,544.

    In Feb 2007 Norton is appointed executive director, the only employee, and some of her friends with a last name of Anschutz and McMorris show up on the board. Norton is paid $110,000 and the amount awarded to officers, widows and children was reduced to $63,387. The ball made no money.

    In 2008 Norton is paid $120,000 and a part time employee is hired for an additional $8,000. In 2008 the amount paid to officers, widows and children was back up to $85,487.

    The ball again made no money.

    McInnis may have been overpaid by the foundation but the quality of his work is rather subjective and they seemed to be happy with it.  

    When Norton was “fundraising” for police officers, widows and children, the fact that more of the money given for them, instead went to her, is something I find more troubling.  She certainly did not run the office either as a fiscal conservative or as a good steward of money intended for others.

    1. What is your basis for implying Ms. Norton did something wrong? The DPF wanted to bring on paid staff to increase its fundraising ability and make it more effective. I’ve worked as a volunteer for other charitable organizations who did the same thing and after a few yesars having a profesisonal paid staff paid great dividends to the organization.

      Obvioulsy DPF decided to hire a professional staff before Ms. Norton was hired and they were obviously satisfied with her work because they increased her salary. If anything, she should be complimented for her work.

      Again, what is the factual basis for implying she did something wrong while at DPF?

      1. Here is the website intro:

        “The Denver Police Foundation

        Providing aid to officers, enhancing public safety

        Every day, the courageous men and women of the Denver Police Department put their lives on the line to protect and serve the citizens of Denver. By getting involved with the Denver Police Foundation, you have the unique opportunity to provide direct assistance to the officers who serve in your neighborhood and throughout the city.”

        120K to Jane Norton, 85K to officers, widows and children.  That is what is wrong. If more money is paid to the fundraiser and administrator than the intended purpose I think that is wrong.  Maybe you think it is swell.  Your choice.  But I bet they never told people more was going to Norton than officers, widows and children.  That in my view would also be wrong.

        1. It is public infornmation. Nobody hid anything and you’re ignoring the main point. Once professional staff are hired the fundraising doesn’t magically double or triple. It takes several years to develop additional fundraising events and to bring them online.

          I volunteered for a foundation here in town. We hired a new executive director because fundraising was anemic. The first and second years the salary of the executive director ate up a large percentage of the funds raised and we did not put as much into the programs of the foundation as we had the year before we hired the paid executive director but beginning in her third year and through the present the foundaiton has raised two to four times as much money as it ever did when it was a volunteer orgainzation and our programs have been enhanced. We could have never done that without professional paid staff.

          Your criticism of Ms. Norton is wihtout foundation. To professionalize and increase the fundraising for what previoulsy was a volunteer foundation requires the expenditure of money on prfessional staff and that is exactly what the DPF did. Ms. Norton should be praised for her efforts on thier behalf.  

          1. Norton was hired February 2007 and paid $10K per month.  She filed the form which discloses she was getting paid on November 19th 2008 over 1 and 1/2 years later.  By the time the information was public she had already been paid over $200K and funds paid to officers, widows and children had been decreased.

            You may think it is swell to give the impression to donors that the money is going to charity when more of it is going to Norton than charity, but I do not share that view.

            The main point is her actions were deceptive and not up front.  Kind of like her campaign.

            1. By the way charitable foundations have to report to the Colorado Attorney General’s office, every year if I’m not mistaken. Check there.

              As mentioned in previous posts in this thread, the DPF was doing exactly what it should do to professionalize and increase its fundraising ability by hiring a full time director. As I described above, when organizations enter the transition period between a volunteer and full time paid staff, the amount of funds available for the purpose of the foundation may very well decline due to the staff salaries but in the end the amount of money will rise and rise to levels far above the amounts raised during the volunteer period.

              Ms. Norton did nothing wrong.  The dip in amounts available for the purposes of the foundation followed the normal pattern. I Know you support Mr. Buck over Ms. Norton which is fine but if your going to attack Ms. Norton you should stick to issues or events that lend credibility to your arguments against her candidacy. This is not one of them.  

  4. thanks for the information.  I’m sure this has taken considerable effort.

    Regarding payments to Norton or other politicos, those things are worth investigation, too.  I don’t think we need to argue about who’s actions are better or worse.

    I think the most important part of this story is how much money was paid for how little.  It smacks of corruption.  Was it illegal?  I doubt it.  Was it wrong?  Obviously.

    1. .

      If a person believes in an inalienable right to own property, then that includes the rights to use, abuse, and give away that property.  

      R U suggesting that the writing of articles was a subterfuge to avoid paying gift taxes ?

      But if I want to pay someone too much for something, why is that wrong ?  Does it being wrong depend on you not liking the donor, the recipient or both ?


      1. this money came from a foundation.  I am guessing that there are favorable tax laws for a foundation.  If that tax status is being abused for purposes outside the mission of the foundation, that is a problem.  

        There are two judgments to be made.  One is of legality.  I agree that you can do whatever stupid thing you want with your money.  However, if the tax status was misused, that’s a legal question.  The second is a moral judgment:  this disbursement is a corrupt one, whether or not it is illegal.  

        I’m not much interested in the legal question, myself.  I am, however, very concerned about such a significant sum going to a politician (especially since he was not in office at the time).

        1. A foundation with favorable tax status paying money to a politician, for articles that aren’t worth anywhere near what is paid.

          Does not look good.

  5. While discussing Jane Norton and Scott McInnis, I wonder if anyone noticed over the weekend Mike bennett’s charitable contributions—or lack thereof?  Basically the Post reported he made $11,500,000 in TWO years, and gave less than $2,000 to charity. Waddya say, Mike?????

  6. Sure $150,000 a year is a little bit high, but not out of the range of a scholarly fellowship. The Hasan’s have a lot of money and can dole it out how they want. And I am in no way a supporter of McInnis.

    1. Scholarly. Have you read that crap?

      Not out of the range? Research fellowships pay from zero to $50,000, and they generally expect full-time employment and a Ph.D., not a poorly-written 5 paragraph essay once in a while by a second-rate lobbyist and former congressional back bencher.

      1. If a private foundation is behind it, it could be much higher. I get the feeling that McInnis was not merely supposed to write a few articles, but to be the point person for all Colorado water issues for the Republican party. (Also, he said that the articles were written so they could be understood by the general public, not just experts.) In essence, it was a highly paid PR job.

  7. Actually it is easy to miss—–bad me—-dont actually check ColPols out, all day, every day.  Guess I will have to get a life, like you

    1. I’m a mom’s-basement-dwelling, underwear-clad blogger from Josh Penry’s worst nightmares.  🙂

      I’m just saying, you found this thread alright. I would have expected you would have seen the diary that compared Bennet to your boy Scooty Mac.

  8. WATER! It is an absolute human and economic necessity. WATER! You and I cannot live without it. Colorado’s economy and people absolutely depend on water.

    ROFL. You can practically see McInnis hunched over his No. 2 pencil like a fifth-grader writing a science report, thinking to himself: “1, 2, 3… 25. Damn: 475 words left to go!”

    1. BISCUITS!  It is an absolute human tasty treat.  BISCUITS! You and I cannot live (so fine) without it.  Colorado’s breakfasts and people absolutely depend on biscuits.

      It works for so many things.  McInnis is brilliant.  And he’s definitely good writing in the manner of the ill-informed.  

  9. I found McInnis’ personal recollection of water history amazing — he didn’t need to use any references. Especially the Colorado River Compact info — McInnis surely didn’t read this first.  

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