GOP?Lincoln Day dinner delivers media blast

Kerber hints at plot to destroy gov candidates

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

GLENDALE — Billed as an “evening with a national rising political star” Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, the Lincoln Day dinner sponsored by the Arapahoe County and Denver County Republican parties Friday turned into a soiree in defense of state GOP gubernatorial candidates Scott McInnis and Dan Maes, whose stars were tarnished, at least temporarily, in a storm of negative press coverage.

In a keynote speech before the dinner, Pawlenty called for the election of “Constitutional conservatives” in November and recalled how he’d taken a hard line to balance Minnesota’s state budget. He even had prevailed in revamping government employee benefits during a 41-day Metro Transit bus strike.

Republican state House District 9 candidate Bob Lane and Denver Republican activist Jeff Krump, who donated a Vail vacation package that drew competitive bidding between Wil Armstrong and Francoise Bergan. Bergan won with a $1,600 bid.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
Republican candidates Dr. Mike Fallon, who is running against Democratic 1st District Congresswoman Diana DeGette, and Danny Stroud, who is challenging Democratic state Rep. Jeanne Labuda in House District 1.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
State Senator Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, with Arapahoe County Republican activist Dorothy Pearson and former Douglas County GOP Chair Kelsey Alexander.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
Minnesota Gov.ernor Tim Pawlenty says America is on a “very slippery slope” in his keynote speech at the Arapahoe and Denver County Republican parties’ Lincoln Day dinner at the Infinity Event Center in Glendale.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
State House District 2 Republican candidate Doc Miller courts supporters at the dinner. Miller is challenging incumbent Democratic state Rep. Mark Ferrandino.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman
State House Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer praises AM1510 sports talk show host Marcus Giavanni for pitching politics and baseball.
Photo by Leslie Jorgensen/The Colorado Statesman

Rivaling Pawlenty as the dinner headliner was Colorado 6th District Congressman Mike Coffman who was embraced with standing ovations before and after his speech about the crossroads that will determine America’s future.

“This election will determine whether America continues down the path of increasing the size and powers of the federal government or whether we go down the path of putting government under constitutional principles,” said Coffman, who co-chairs the Balanced Budget Amendment caucus, the first in the history of Congress.

“This election will be a referendum on whether or not America continues to go down the path to socialism or whether we go down the path of a free enterprise system and market-based economy,” declared Coffman.

He said that the outcome of the November election would likely pack a surprise for Democrats.

“Americans are rising up all over this country,” said Coffman, who cited Republicans and activists at “tea party” and “9-12” rallies. “The American people in general are upset over what’s going on and the direction of this country.”

The speeches by Pawlenty and Coffman, however, were overshadowed by a shock-and-awe slam on the media launched by Arapahoe County GOP Chairman Dave Kerber.

Kerber sharply criticized the Denver Post for repeatedly attacking McInnis since Monday, July 12, when the newspaper accused the former 3rd district congressman of having plagiarized published material in a series of water papers that he’d produced in 2005 as part of a two-year $300,000 fellowship for the Hasan Family Foundation.

On one day alone, Kerber said, the newspaper published a favorable article about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hickenlooper, Denver’s mayor, but hammered McInnis in news articles, columns, a cartoon and an editorial that called for the candidate to drop out of the Republican primary race.

“How many of you think that was a coincidence?” Kerber asked roughly 250 folks at the July 16 dinner in the Infinity Event Center.

“No way!” shouted Edie Marks, a well-known Realtor and Arapahoe County Republican.

“That was nothing less than a full scale corporate assault on one of our candidates,” declared Kerber.

He said the newspaper’s coverage appeared to be “planned and coordinated” by a group of power players in an attempt “to destroy a man” and defeat the perceived frontrunner in the GOP governor’s primary contest.

McInnis, who did not attend the dinner, has admitted that the plagiarized passages were included in the papers about water, but contended it was proffered by a researcher whom he had contracted. Rolly Fischer, an engineer, conceded he’d been paid by McInnis for research, but he accused McInnis of using the published material without attribution.

Kerber also criticized the Denver Post for publishing a story that accused McInnis of “possible plagiarism” in a column and a speech that closely resembled an Op-Ed by Richard V. Allen and Daryl M. Plunk that was published by the Washington Post in 1995.

The county party chair said that the newspaper didn’t contact the writers until after the story was published and failed to correct or retract the story based on Plunk’s statement that the writers had granted permission and wanted McInnis to incorporate portions or the entire opinion piece in his writings.

“I know Scott McInnis and I know that he’s a good man,” said Kerber, whose sentiment received boisterous applause.

Kerber was also critical of news stories about a complaint filed by Christopher Klitzke, of Grand Junction, that alleged Maes had improperly received corporate in-kind campaign contributions and failed to disclose occupations of several individual contributors. In addition, the complaint questioned the basis for Maes having been reimbursed more than $43,000 for mileage.

Maes chose not to contest the charges and agreed to pay a fine of $17,500, a reduced amount negotiated by his attorneys.

“Dan is a fine man,” said Kerber, who added that it had been unfair for Maes to incur the costs of having to hire lawyers to resolve the complaint.

“(McInnis and Maes) have sacrificed for us,” said Kerber about the two candidates who he said have put the people of Colorado ahead of the needs of their own families in their nearly 18 months of campaigning.

“Who will stand up against the corporate interest of the Denver Post?” asked Kerber. “Let me tell you there are good people at the Denver Post. There are people who are hanging their heads in shame over what the Denver Post has done (this) last week.”

“Great speech, Dave!” shouted state Rep. David Balmer, of Centennial, over thundering applause.

Among the numerous Republican candidates who were allotted speaking time was Maes. The candidate didn’t join the verbal assault on the newspaper but seemed buoyed by his boost in the primary caused by the McInnis plagiarism saga.

“When I make up my mind to do something — I do it!” declared Maes.

He reminded folks that he’d entered the race as a businessman — not a politician — last year and won top line on the primary ballot at the state GOP assembly. Maes said that his campaign picked up momentum and money over the past week.

Maes didn’t mention that the contributions might be spurred by reaction to the onslaught of media coverage against McInnis.

Aware of reported rumors about backroom Republican powerbrokers exploring ways to replace McInnis — and Maes — as the party’s gubernatorial nominee, the Evergreen businessman implored folks to take a chance and have the courage to back his candidacy.

Folks like Kerber want to see the primary play out with McInnis and Maes.

Calling both candidates “patriots,” Kerber said that they are successful men who don’t need to take a $90,000-a-year job as governor to tackle and reverse the state’s economic decline caused by Democrats over the past four to six years.

On the surface that appears to be true, however, both candidates face financial challenges. McInnis has pledged to repay $300,000 to the Hasan Foundation.

Maes has campaigned on his business experience and touted that he’d built a company that he sold for more than a million dollars in the late 1990s. He has also campaigned for transparency in government — but his private and campaign financial records had not been open to public review.

Within 24 hours of the Lincoln Day dinner, the blog “Complete Colorado” demanded Maes produce his personal and campaign finances and make them public. In response, Maes provided some of the records to The Constitutionalist Today newspaper, which has endorsed his candidacy and handled his paid campaign media.

According to the Colorado Springs-based monthly newspaper, Maes earned about $89,000 a year between 2000 and 2004. His income hovered at roughly $20,000 in 2005 and 2006, and increased to nearly $52,000 in 2007, a time period that corresponds to the establishment of his business, Amaesing Credit Solutions, LLC. Since March 2007, the business has been deemed “delinquent” in filing annual reports with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Maes earned $11,000 in 2008, the year that he organized Advantage Credit Bureau of Colorado, LLC. He told The Colorado Statesman that he sold 49 percent of the business in January of this year.

Leslie@coloradostatesman.com