Tag Archive for buying elections

Pro-fracking group books TV ads before November election

Ad financiers: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy

TV ad, Pro-Fracking expenditure, CO IndpendentSandra Fish
Oil and gas interests are planning ahead, even though a ballot initiative isn’t likely to be finalized until summer.

A pro-fracking issue group has reserved 323 TV ad spots at a cost of more than $299,000 for the nine weeks leading up to the November election – and that’s at just one Denver station.

Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence is an issue committee formed in January “to oppose anti-fracking ballot measures and to support pro-fracking ballot measures,” said Jon Haubert, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, a pro-fracking nonprofit backed by the oil-and-gas industry.

At least two ballot initiatives are being proposed that would allow communities to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.  No pro-fracking initiatives have been formally organized, but Haubert didn’t rule out the possibility.

In an order placed on Feb. 11, a California company, Sadler Strategic Media, scheduled the ads to run in September, October and early November on KMGH Channel 7.The ad buy includes spots on news programs as well as popular ABC prime-time shows such as “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Nashville.”

The company has also sought information about ad rates from KUSA Channel 9, according to a document filed with the Federal Communication Commission.  Typically, campaigns buy time on most network affiliates in major markets such as Denver.

Stations in the top 50 television markets are required to report information about political ad buys to the FCC.  That means Denver stations must file, but stations in Colorado Springs and Grand Junction don’t have to. They keep paper files available for inspection at their stations.

It could be early August before signatures are due to qualify initiatives — either pro- or anti-fracking — for the November ballot.

Haubert said the industry is “preparing in case they need to run advertising.”

“It seems that elections are year-round these days.”

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy created the nonprofit Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development after several communities approved fracking bans in the November 2013 elections.

On Sunday, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved new rules targeting methane and other chemicals released in oil and gas exploration. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper recommended the rule changes with support from Anadarko, Noble and some other companies.

Still, fracking remains highly controversial and industry is prepping to convince Colorado voters to protect its ability to drill throughout the state.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is suing some communities over their fracking prohibitions, and Hickenlooper has said property rights guarantees in the state Constitution should override such bans.  The state has signed on as a plaintiff in some of the lawsuits.

Coloradans can expect a deluge of political ads this fall because of a U.S. Senate race and one of the hottest congressional races in the country in the state’s 6th District, where GOP incumbent Mike Coffman is facing Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff.  In 2010, outside groups spent some $30 million on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, much of it on TV advertising.

Katy Atkinson, a Republican political consultant, said reserving ad time now makes sense, even if it’s unclear whether industry will be on the offense or defense of a ballot issue.

“It is always smart in a ballot issue to buy early when you can,” she said.

Atkinson recalled a ballot issue she worked on that couldn’t place an order until they had money to go on TV. By that time, she said, “there was nothing available. We had to buy the Golf Channel.”

Advocates of an initiative to allow local governments to limit oil and gas development told The Colorado Independent that they plan a grassroots campaign heavy on social media and door-to-door work.

Some ballot campaigns have succeeded by spending little on TV ads. In 2012, the successful campaign to approve medical marijuana spent about $170,000 on 154 ads in the Denver market.  Last year, backers of a tax increase for schools spent more than $11 million total, including millions on TV ads. Voters overwhelmingly rejected that initiative.Pro-fracking group books at least $299K in TV ads before November election

 

Behind-the-scenes story of oil and gas in Longmont

Who's behind all the oil and gas influence? Western/American Tradition Partners

Who’s behind all the oil and gas influence? Western/American Tradition Partners

Once upon a time not too long ago, our terrific city was growing and evolving. Not in the usual sense of the words, but in forming a fresh identity that would lead us forwards in this new century. That is the best, most meaningful definition of “home rule,” albeit not the legal one.

And then along came the oil and gas industry. The behind-the-scenes story began in 2009 when Longmont first lost control of its elections to outside interests with big money to spend. An organization known then as Western Tradition Partnership, now American Tradition Partnership, slipped into Longmont elections more or less under the radar. It fully funded a political committee who attacked candidates that it perceived as being unreceptive to their intended future agenda.

WTP/ATP is an IRS 501c4. It doesn’t have to reveal its donors. But its mission makes it clear just who those donors are. ATP is funded by extraction industries and backers who support that agenda. What do I mean by “extraction industries”? In a nutshell – mineral extraction. And for the purposes of Longmont, that means oil and gas. And that means fracking.

WTP (ATP) funded a slate of candidates to redirect the vision for Longmont. Their motive, vague and blurred at the time, was to pave the way for oil and gas drilling by means of hydraulic fracturing inside Longmont; and in doing so, to transform our fair city into something we would not recognize or want.

Bryan Baum, a former mayor now serving as a proxy for the oil and gas industry, made his motives clear in early 2010 when he stated that he wanted the city to get into the oil and gas business by exploiting its own mineral rights. I watched for council agenda items on minerals. They did not appear. But they WERE there – hidden from view, without the knowledge or consent of the Longmont public, but as part of an ATP-sponsored and council majority endorsed trajectory to invite the oil and gas industry to bully its way into Longmont, leaving Longmont citizens and the city to pick up after them.

The oil and gas industry’s intention to drill in Longmont came out of hiding in an ATP election survey in October 2011. And with that, “all hell broke loose.” It was staff’s intent to bring a TOP Operating conditional use permit before the Planning and Zoning Commission in November 2011. That, as they say, would have been that. Longmont would have been fracked and we wouldn’t have known what hit us.

As the people of Longmont became aware of what was in store for their hometown, over and over they said, “Oh, no you don’t. This is OUR Longmont and we get to say whether or not we get fracked.”

Over 8200 people signed the petition sponsored by Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont to place Question 300 that prohibits hydraulic fracking and fracking waste disposal inside Longmont city limits on our ballot. Now there are those with big, big industry money behind them who are trying to silence those voices and hand over the keys to this great town to the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas companies and their trade associations (28) from all over the country and even Canada have contributed nearly a half million dollars to defeat the will of the people of Longmont. How high will that total go? One million dollars? More?

You’ve seen their eight full-page ads with seven mayors pretending to care about the health and safety of Longmont, all the while shilling for the industry who would pollute our air and water and threaten our property values by using false and deceptive quotes from politicians they’ve never supported (and likely never will) to manipulate Longmont voters. They’ve spent or accrued almost $338,000, including television ads and eight mailers. They’re determined to stomp Longmont into submission.

In 2009 and 2011 another industry spent huge sums of money (over $600,000) to make Longmont believe that they cared about us. Longmont voters saw through that scheme and sent them packing.

Pay no attention to the “wizards” on this smokescreen. Tell the oil and gas industry and their local puppets, former or current, that you want them to go away and stay away. This is our Longmont that they are trying to destroy and we won’t allow that. Constitutional and moral rights are on our side.

Vote Yes on 300 to stop them from fracking Longmont.

Seven “has been” mayors support propaganda

Editor’s note: Brian Hansen served on the Longmont City Council from 2007 to 2011.

Brian Hansen

If the seven former mayors who signed on as shills for the oil and gas industry’s assault on the residents of Longmont were aware of the horrendously expensive and deceitful attacks that would be made against Ballot Question 300, they should be ashamed at their disservice to the community.

The recently submitted Report of Contributions and Expenditures that are in the city clerk’s office shows $447,500 contributed by the oil and gas industry and not one dollar contributed by the seven former mayors who are speaking for the opposition.

By now, every voter has no doubt received multiple mailings of color brochures, complete with a photo of the former mayors against a beautiful mountain backdrop. The deceitful message in the ads is hidden in the white boxes, where fragmented quotations from respected federal officials are used to persuade you that hydraulic fracturing is “OK,” “inherently safe” and can be done “without harmful impacts.” The propagandists who prepared the ads or the former mayors (or both) must not have believed anyone would bother to verify the accuracy of the fragmented quotations.

I have looked up several of the citations, and I encourage you to do the same. I can assure you, the story told by the fragmented quotations is far from complete. The untold portion of the story includes two important omissions.

The first is numerous cautions made by the quoted speakers regarding the necessity for tough regulatory action to protect public health and the environment from the impacts of fracking. By the admission of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the commission, we know the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has never adequately regulated the industry in our state.

The second deceitful omission is a lack of candor regarding the fact that the quotations in the white boxes do not pertain to densely populated city environments. However, the propagandists want you to believe fracking is as safe in your neighborhood and near your child’s school as it is on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land, in the Gulf of Mexico or on rural farms.

But what do you expect from an industry that is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign to defeat the efforts of Longmont residents to appropriately regulate their industry?

The most recent full-page color ads arriving in your newspaper are attempting to have you believe passage of Ballot Question 300 will mean millions of dollars spent by residents to acquire mineral rights within the city. The owners of the mineral rights will have the same access to extract those assets as they have had for the past 100 years, before the highly industrialized extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing. Question 300 does not take anyone’s property rights; it merely reasonably regulates the industrial process that is allowed within our neighborhoods and near schools and population centers.

Longmont needs to stand up for itself and vote “yes’ on 300.

Government’s wake-up call: Yes on 300

OF the oil companies, BY the oil companies, FOR the oil companies

OF the oil companies, BY the oil companies, FOR the oil companies

I shall vote in favor for several reasons, but principally because it draws a bright line expressing legitimate fears of citizens who are not comfortable that the State is protecting their interests. A friend of mine says the law is the law, and we must abide by it. And she thinks we would lose the suit, so why even set up for that defeat? Well, our elected representatives can change the law. And even if we should lose the suit, the entire governmental environment will have been changed in our favor.

Both the Governor and the COGCC present as being under the sway of commercial extraction interests to the minimization of looking after the public interests. The matter will play out in the courts, but I am proud that Longmont is likely in this election to make a strong statement favoring its own health and environmental interests — a statement that will serve as a wakeup call to all three branches of State government.

Legislative: Changes to COGCC laws should be rebalanced toward public interests, including enabling local government inspection and control, and oversight by field inspectors should be adequately funded. Executive: Protective regulations based on those changes to law should be written and vigorously enforced. Judicial: In the upcoming suit, so strong an expression of municipal self-interest will certainly influence the courts’ attitudes and likely decisions. Judges read newspapers.

And, almost without saying, City Council will necessarily prosecute the suit with full enthusiasm, despite the very puzzling slick-paper statement contrary to Question 300 by previous Mayors, paid for and distributed by unnamed sources. I am pleased that all the candidates in this election cycle are paying close attention.

Averaged over the Longmont populace, a Ballot Question suit might cost me two or four bucks. I think that’s a rare bargain.

$$$: How to win an election without really trying

The following is the complete version of a Letter to the Editor in Longmont Times-Call on July 14, 2010. The italicized portions were omitted by the Times-Call.

Everything has a price - but should it?

“Money. It doesn’t grow on trees, can’t buy you love, and the love of it is the root of all kinds of evil, filthy lucre, so why is there so much of it in our local elections? I should think that everyone wants their candidates to be transparent in each and everything they do, especially when it comes to who, how, and where they receive their money from.” So says a writer in a recent article on Free Range Longmont, Longmont’s “progressively better news” source.

Recent letters to the editor have commented on several articles at www.freerangelongmont.com on the subject of money in Longmont’s last mayoral and council campaigns, articles that should have been written by Longmont’s local paper-if it had any interest in investigative, analytical reporting. For when financial rocks are turned over in Longmont, what lies underneath is never pretty.

Compare those who spent the most and who had the most spent on their behalf with those who won the office, and the connection between money and politics becomes vividly apparent.

Those who won the election and their supporters spent $82,519. Those who lost spent $21,454, a ratio of 4 to 1. In order to gain their votes, the winning candidates and the groups who supported them spent $2.33 per vote compared to $1.03 per vote by the alternative candidates.

When the well-funded candidates (and those secretly-funded through 501c4 organizations) claimed their majority, something interesting occurred. Three lawsuits brought by their endorsers were settled–for a total of $182,000. That’s not a bad return on an electoral investment. And it gives a whole new meaning to publicly-financed campaigns.

If you have a special interest before the city, spend enough money, conceal your contribution and identity, the collective “you” can effectively buy an election and the results you seek.