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April 25, 2013 08:42 AM UTC

Reporters Need To Know Who (And What) They're Talking About

  • by: Colorado Pols

After some six hours of debate that lasted well into the evening yesterday, House Bill 1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, passed the Senate State Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. Having passed the House, the bill appears increasingly certain to become law–that is, after Republican legislative opponents and Secretary of State Scott Gessler take as much time as possible outlining various disastrous consequences they foresee. We distinguish Republican legislators and Gessler from Republicans generally, because Republican opposition to House Bill 1303 is far from unanimous: county clerks from across the state, including many Republicans, support the bill.

The testimony against House Bill 1303 consisted of Gessler's by-now familiar compliants about "not being consulted" on the bill, and "ordinary citizens" worried about the prospect of "voter fraud." As The Denver Post's Joey Bunch breathlessly reported last night, at least one very dramatic charge of voting fraud involving University of Colorado students was made by a witness:

Much of the opposition testimony was from people who said they were worried about fraud, if same-day registration is allowed. Much of the testimony in Wednesday night’s 6-hour hearing matched that of a seven-and-a-half hour hearing last week, but the tales of past voter fraud by regular citizen was alarming. [Pols emphasis] Russell Hass [sic-Pols] of Golden, for instance, said he knew of University of Colorado students living in a hotel in Wisconsin to qualify to vote there in a tight election. Their expenses were paid by a rich person in Aspen he said.

Russell Haas is very well-known in Jefferson County Republican circles. Joey Bunch should have noted that, but since he didn't spell Haas' name correctly it's a safe bet Bunch didn't know who this guy was. Haas was in fact the registered sponsor of Amendment 61, one of the "Bad Three" anti-tax initiatives masterminded by Douglas Bruce. During the long legal battle over Bruce's secret donations to that campaign, Haas racked up thousands of dollars in fines for failing to disclose Bruce as the funder of the initiative–fines that Scott Gessler later slashed to $50.

Now there's some backstory that Joey Bunch should have included in his "alarming" report, don't you think? Safe to say, a role model for honest dealing in politics and elections Russell Haas is not.

And then there's the matter of Haas' allegation. Folks, we certainly are not aware of any group of University of Colorado students "living in a hotel in Wisconsin to qualify to vote there in a tight election." We know nothing about a "rich person in Aspen" funding such an effort. Given the stiff penalties for and limited utility of individual voter fraud, this seems most unlikely, but if it were true, we believe it would be a nationwide story. In fact, what seems impossible is the idea that every conservative media outlet in America would not be shouting that from the rooftops if there were even the smallest shred of evidence to support the claim.

But instead of badly-needed context, and an objective look at the allegation being made, in the state's newspaper of record we get this ridiculous pearl-clutching story lending "alarming" credibility to one of the least credible figures in Colorado politics–and uncritically reprinting a wild allegation with absolutely zero supporting evidence.

It's an excellent example of lazy journalism becoming downright irresponsible.


10 thoughts on “Reporters Need To Know Who (And What) They’re Talking About

  1. I keep thinking the Denver Post can't get any worse, and then they prove me wrong.

    Subsidizing the Bad Three scoundrels as they testify against "voter fraud." That's fucking rich, Joey!

    1. Absolutely.

      The kid's probably just uninformed, not curious, and just going through the motions of doing a job he probably doesn't like and that he knows he won't have for long………given the trajectory of the Post.

      Half assed work for a half assed publication. No excuse, mind you, but it is what it is.

      One thing though, and it has nothing to do with Joey, the Post or the hackstaffed Haas.

      Give our Legislature credit. They won a mandate last November and are flat out acting like it. "Passed along Party lines" means the Majority is doing what we sent them to do. They're making Laws, passing Legislation.

      We live in a State that has the House, Senate and "Governor". And yeah, as "politically opportunistic" as he is, and certainly no friend of the environment, he hasn't derailed the will of the people on civil rights or gun safety.

      I think about shit holes like Mississippi, all red regime, and I'm glad, relieved and proud to be a Coloradoan.

  2. Lay off Joey and try to appreciate the jobs statehouse reporters do. They're trying to keep track of many, many bills, each with changing coalitions and various degrees of buffoonery. What this episode proves is that the Denver paper was incredibly short-sighted and cheap for dumping its editors. Catching this like this is what editors do, which was what Pols did.


      1. Arap's getting hot and bothered hoping the Post's current trajectory will land them in the school of reporting where there will be fewer facts and more GOP talking points reported as "news".

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