Tag Archive for Scott Shires

When Longmont went dirty

Ms Baum, you brought dirty politics to Longmont. I received in the mail dirty political attack campaign mailers from the Steve Monger of the Longmont Leadership aka Western Tradition partnership and from you Ms. Baum. You go after citizens who don’t agree with you. It’s not right what you do. It’s shameful what you do.
— blog post by “Onion” on the article BoCo Dems get first look at HD 11 contenders – Times-Call.com

Some people can lose an election and move on (no pun intended).  Some people can’t.  One has to wonder who in the dangerous duo from November’s election is having the most difficulty, ex-mayor Bryan Baum or the ex “First Lady”.  It’s a toss-up.

Bryan seems to have great difficulty letting go.  Would you be surprised to know that he’s still doing the “Monday with the Mayor” radio broadcast, but under a nominally different banner?  Oh, yes, not making that one up.  News flash, “has-been-mayor” Baum, your term is over.  And in spite of a retained conservative majority, at least you cannot continue to damage Longmont.  No matter how much you stroke yourself, you did cause much damage.  It was delineated in the Moving Longmont Forward mailer.  Could it be that you actually do not recognize the harm you’ve caused?  Naw, not likely.  That you have to protest so often and so publicly suggests that even you worry about having been exposed.  Don’t worry.  Those who agree with you won’t hold your skullduggery against you; they applaud it.

As to Bryan Baum’s other half…  I know the usual expression is “better half” …but it this case there is no “better.”  Stephanie seems to have as much difficulty with truth as her husband does.  She led the way in 2008 with the notorious “pink letter” (reproduced below).

A recent Times-Call article gave her the opportunity to get back in the game.  Likely she chafed at having to keep her mouth shut for two years lest she damage her husband’s re-election chances.  She needn’t have worried.  Baum did that quite well all by himself.   First out of the gate, in the article about the first forum for Democratic HD 11 contenders, Stephanie Baum demands that no one support Jonathan Singer in his House District 11 race because he supported Moving Longmont Forward.  Another news flash, this one for the ex-First Lady., Mr. Singer does not endorse lies and that is why he was able to support the mailer exposing your husband’s record and behavior.  Mr. Singer has personal experience with your husband’s bullying.  He chose not to expose him, a kindness that others would not have been so inclined to offer.  Had the contents of that telephone conversation been revealed to the public, your husband would have lost by a landslide.

In Stephanie Baum’s tit-for-tat on the Times-Call website, back and forth, she effectively dared “Onion” to produce a copy of the “pink letter” and demonstrate the attacks that were leveled.  Free Range Longmont is happy to oblige on their behalf.

The irony of all of the protestations by the Baums is their selective memories not only of the launching of negative campaigning in the 2008 campaign, but ready acceptance of the most vile of political campaigning that Longmont has ever experienced, namely the “The Longmont Leader.”

For those who may have preferred to forget, this was a newspaper-style**, 11” x 17” 8-pager that spent most of its ink in inarguable attack.  Ink, by the way, that was paid for by Western Tradition Partnership, an organization that never was, never will be a local voice (except perhaps to hide contributions by those who do not have the courage to display their agenda publicly).

I am not so naïve as to believe that this will be the last word on political lies and political attacks.  Pandora’s Box was opened by Gabe Santos and Stephanie Baum was more than happy to wield an ax.  In the process, they changed Longmont’s politics for the indefinite future and invited the the likes of Scott Shires (responsible for the first attack piece in the 2008 election and connected to political hit sites) and Western (now American) Tradition Partnership.  I’m certain Longmont hasn’t heard the last of them – they have a lot of money and an agenda.


Transcription of the “Pink Letter” sent to Longmont voters during the 2008 Special Election. Underlining is preserved from original. Color-highlighted text is FRL emphasis. Spelling errors in the original have been marked ‘sic’ to indicate they have been left unchanged.


Stephanie Baum

January 18, 2008

Dear Friend,

I am writing you today as a mother and a neighbor – please forgive me for my informality – as I have never felt called to send a letter like this.

Normally, I am satisfied to take my son to karate practice, plan play dates with other moms and their kids, and spend my free time keeping up with friends through email.

But I have become gravely concerned about our community of Longmont and the sudden change in direction it has taken.

I have lived in Longmont for nine years and have come to love this community and have developed many deep friendships here. Longmont has grown precisely because it is a beautiful, safe place with strong values, where a family can thrive.

That’s why I care deeply about the kind of leadership my son and daughter, Chase and Brooklynn, and I see in Longmont and across our great state of Colorado.

The future of Longmont is important enough that I wanted to personally write to you about Gabe Santos, who is the common-sense Republican running to bring balance back to Longmont City Council.

I first met Gabe over 7 years ago, at a welcome reception in the home of his in-laws, Van and Diane Stow, whom I’ve known for years.

When I met Gabe, I remember thinking “oh great, another Big City guy moving to our little town,” but as soon as I spoke to him I realized he was anything but a “Big City guy.” His engaging personality is obviously one of the many reasons why his wife Vicki fell in love with him.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re recently seen an organized assault on Longmont by a radical element attempting to distort Gabe’s record and hide their harmful agenda, in an effort to take over city council.

I have believed for some time that this sort of negative campaigning is degrading the way we act and feel towards each other.

In response to the distasteful broadsides being directed at my friend Gabe and at some people of faith in our community, I have some nice – and true – things to say.

I know Gabe Santos is a good and decent man. He has spent his entire adult life serving others.

My husband coordinates the Salvation Army bell-ringing for the Longmont Rotary Club, and Gabe rang the bell more than any other Rotarian this year. Gabe and Vicki chaired Longmont’s Relay for Life, taking over for us in that capacity.

My husband Bryan and I have been very active with local non-profits here in Longmont, and Gabe and Vicki have the same passion that we do in those endeavors. Gabe so often puts the needs of others before his own.

He has served his family by providing for them and being a “hands on” dad with his involvement and support – we can’t go to Art Walk, the Halloween Parade, the Festival on Main, Oktoberfest or any other of a number of community events without running into Gabe, Vicki and their daughter Sylvia.

He worked with city government through Focus on Longmont to ensure our community is a great place to live both now and in the future, and Gabe helps meet the needs of others by volunteering with the Longmont Ending Violence White Ribbon Campaign and working with the Education Summit to improve our childrens school experience.

When Gabe told my husband and I that he was going to run for City Council, we knew right away that Gabe’s integrity and wisdom would make him a great city representative.

That feeling hasn’t changed.

As far as his leadership, I would definately(sic) feel safer with Gabe’s kind of policy on public safety, reasonable growth, restraining taxes and spending, and respecting citizens’ private lives than someone who would choose to divide the city further.

And unlike his opponent, Gabe doesn’t plan to spend his entire life on the government payroll – he knows what a challenge life is for families and businesses, which is why today he’s working as an accountant and studying to become a CPA.

Now, honestly, I wasn’t sure what his opponent stood for, because he seems to change or obscure his views on some of the most important issues our city faces today.

In fact, his opponent, Richard Juday has even gone so far as to delete at least four pages from his website – pages that contain very troubling comments about being “more like Boulder;” attacking the beliefs of people of faith; and the most significant one…his promise not to take campaign contributions.

That’s why, when I looked online at the City Clerk’s campaign finance report, I tell you, I was in for a surprise!

The first that jumped out at them was the number of radical left-wing Democrat activists who were supporting Mr. Juday. Many of the same donors are on record supporting cadidates who push a tax-and-spend, anti-family agenda.

Forgive me, but those groups and individuals – which include many of the same Boulder radicals who recently ran a smear campaign against our neighbors at LifeBridge church – do not share my vision for a strong future for Longmont families.

I looked for names of people whom would show some balance, but truthfully, Juday seems only to be supported by the Boulder County Democrat(sic *) Party, MoveOn.org types (whom I’ve never seen active in our community), and out-of-state donors.

Now, I know it takes money to buy yard signs and run a campaign, but when I saw the list of “zero-growth” Boulder Democrats backing Mr. Juday, I decided to look up his vision for the future, and it’s apparent from his own campaign materials he wants to turn Longmont into “Boulder-lite.”

I know Boulder – I grew up there, and my parents still live there. Businesses and families are fleeing “the People’s Republic of Boulder” because of it’s city government’s radical anti-growth policies and dangerous social engineering projects and experiments.

Longmont’s realtors and small businesses are obviously very concerned – because the last thing our local economy needs is repressive taxation and regulation on our housing. That’s why the Longmont Association of Realtors endorsed Gabe Santos.

Now I, like everyone, want to enjoy our surrounding and be a good steward of our environment – but I also know that Longmont’s long-held policies of smart and well-planned growth are the biggest reason our taxes have not skyrocketed like we’ve seen in Boulder.

That’s why I also agree with Gabe about cutting waste in City government to maintain our open space, in a way that doesn’t increase the tax burden on middle class families.

His opponent believes tax increases are the way to go, and several of Richard Juday’s tax-and-spend city council members have already voted to reverse existing, sensible cost-cutting measures in the interest of buying support from government bureaucrats.

Gabe’s belief in fiscal restraint will translate into stronger parks, library, and recreation for all our children over the long term – without creating a heavy-handed bureaucracy that micromanages our every move.

That’s how I know that Gabe is definately(sic) against Mr. Juday’s proposed scheme to institute an “inner-governmental agreement” to “track individual shoppers by their license plate numbers,” while we are inside browsing supermarket aisles.

I know that’s hard to believe – that’s why I posted his deleted pages on my blog, www.takebacklongmont.blogspot.com (and yes, those are my cute kids in the blog’s photo!!)

So, it’s now clear to me why Gabe’s opponent has done everything to hide his own views – candidates with such Big Brother schemes have to cloak themselves – because they don’t stand for anything I believe most Longmont families would agree with.

So it turns out the Boulder radicals are actually the ones propping up Gabe’s opponent.

Our community has several important issue facing us, including public safety and gangs, infrastructure, and responsible growth. I am gravely concerned about the kind of future a city councilman like Richard Juday would give us.

In the end, it comes down to money – lots of it given to Juday from outside our district, and the rest from partisan operatives willing to deceive voters in their attempt to turn Longmont into another “Boulder-utopia.”

I am asking you to find your mail-in ballot, and cast your vote for a family-friendly vision for Longmont’s future that I hope you and I share.

With the underhanded campaign against our community and on Gabe Santos – a truly good man – coming from Richard Juday’s campaign and the radical special interests that support him – I’m not sure I can stomach his vision for Colorado’s future.

So, in the end, I just thought I’d let you know what’s been on my mind.

If you’d like to talk, please give me a call at 303-946-9507.

Sincerely,

(signed) Stephanie Baum

P.S. It has been a blessing to know Gabe Santos and to work with him in our community.

I guarantee, if you will cast your vote for Gabe on the mail-in ballot you recently received, you will love him as a city councilman, as much as his family and those in Longmont already do!

Please remember to vote for Gabe Santos before January 29th.


Scans of original mailer pages used for transcription.

Stephanie Baum

Councilman Gabe Santos

* It’s not the ‘Democrat’ Party of Boulder County, it’s ‘Democratic’ – this is a common and oft-repeated extremist-right slur/purposeful ‘mistake’/hyper-partisan rhetoric.

** Gee… golly… it looked so real. I believe on purpose. Some people believe anything “the newspaper” tells them.

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Who’s behind the ‘information attacks’ on climate scientists?

Editor’s Note:  Free Range Longmont is pleased to be able to reproduce this in depth investigative report and expose on American Tradition Institute/American Tradition Partnership/Western Tradition Partnership.  The report details the vast network of funding by interrelated businesses and think tanks who are determined to manipulate public perceptions of the environmental and economic threats of climate change.   

We are also honored to have been able to contribute to the extensive research performed by the Institute of Southern Studies (ISS).  ISS has been in existence since 1970 and has established a national reputation as an essential resource for grassroots activists, community leaders, scholars, policy makers and others working to bring lasting social and economic change to the region.


This article is reproduced in its entirety from the website for The Institute for Southern Studies.

This week, in a courtroom in Prince William County, Virginia, a hearing will take place that could have implications for the privacy rights of scientists at colleges and universities across the country.

It’s part of a lawsuit brought by the American Tradition Institute, a free-market think tank that wants the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud. Filed against the University of Virginia, the suit seeks emails and other documents related to former professor Michael Mann, an award-winning climate scientist who has become a focus of the climate-denial movement because of his research documenting the recent spike in earth’s temperature.

By suing the university, the American Tradition Institute wants to make public Mann’s correspondence in an effort to find out whether he manipulated data to receive government grants, a violation of the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

But a Facing South investigation has found that the Colorado-based American Tradition Institute is part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation. Our investigation also finds that ATI has connections with the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence.

‘A Hostile Environment’

Michael MannThe controversy involving ATI began in January, when the group submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to U.Va. seeking documents connected to Mann (photo at left), who now directs the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. After the school was slow to produce the materials, ATI along with Virginia Del. Robert Marshall (R), another global-warming skeptic, filed a lawsuit in May seeking to expedite the documents’ release. This week’s hearing will consider Mann’s motion to intervene in the case in order to protect privacy interests he does not think will be adequately protected by the other parties.

A physicist and climatologist with advanced degrees from Berkeley and Yale, Mann’s research contributed to the “hockey stick graph,” which shows a sharp rise in the earth’s temperature in recent years. He was also among those caught up in the so-called “Climategate” controversy, involving emails hacked from a British university that climate skeptics claimed showed global warming was a fraud. Multiple investigations by Penn State, the National Science Foundation’s Inspector General, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and British parliament have cleared Mann and others of misconduct and determined that the content of the emails in no way changed the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity.

Despite those exonerations, however, Mann became the target of a separate ongoing investigation launched last year by Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a global-warming skeptic who issued civil subpoenas for Mann’s emails and other documents. A Virginia judge dismissed the investigation, but Cuccinelli — who previously challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers public health — is now appealing that decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia. ATI is seeking the same documents as Cuccinelli.

ATI’s lawsuit has been widely condemned by science, academic and civil liberties groups, who describe it as a politically motivated intrusion into academic freedom. The board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that such legal challenges “have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas.” Earlier this year, public-interest groups including the American Association of University Professors sent a letter to the U.Va. president noting that the Virginia public documents statute expressly exempts scholarly data of a proprietary nature that has not yet been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented.

“While we need freedom of information laws to hold public officials accountable, the law has exemptions for good reason,” said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the letter’s signatories. “Scientists should be able to challenge other scientists’ ideas and discuss their preliminary thinking before their analyses are complete and published.”

But ATI has fired back against the scientists and academics, accusing them of taking part in a conspiracy to mislead and defraud the public.

“Once again these self-interested groups — who hope to protect their billions of dollars in government funding of dubious, unsupportable research — accuse ATI of ‘harassment and intimidation’ of scientists,” ATI Executive Director Paul Chesser said in a statement. “It shows how blind they are to the fact that ATI has acted in the interest of sound, verifiable science and for the protection of the hard-earned money that taxpayers are forced to relinquish for such research.”

ATI’s Western roots

American Tradition InstituteThe American Tradition Institute’s foray into the Virginia case marks the expansion of a controversial group already known for its fierce advocacy on behalf of oil, gas and coal interests in Western states.

The American Tradition Institute was launched in Colorado in February 2009 as the nonprofit Western Tradition Institute, changing its name to ATI last year.  WTI, in turn, was a spinoff of the Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) — a 501(c)(4) political advocacy group backed by energy interests.

“They are offshoots from the same poisoned roots,” said Peter Fontaine, the attorney representing Michael Mann in the ATI lawsuit.

WTP, which has since changed its name to American Tradition Partnership (logo above), describes itself as a “no-compromise grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the radical environmentalist agenda.” It was first registered as a Colorado nonprofit in 2008 by Scott Shires, a Republican operative with a checkered past: He was fined over $7,000 for campaign finance violations in Colorado, pleaded guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal grants for developing alternative fuels, and was tied to an illegal gambling ring. WTP was active on behalf of oil and gas industry interests in the 2008 commissioners race in Garfield County, a center of Colorado’s energy industry.

Last year, the then-Western Tradition Partnership also backed a Colorado ballot initiative that would have allowed voters to opt out of the state’s renewable energy standard, which requires 30 percent of the electricity produced by investor-owned utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030. WTP missed the filing deadline to put the measure on the ballot, but ATI is picking up the slack: The group has sued Colorado over the standard, and is targeting similar renewable energy promotion programs in Delaware, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.

The groups have not only been fighting on behalf of the energy industry: They’ve also been targeting laws that restrict corporate money in elections and that require disclosure of contributions. In 2009, Western Tradition Partnership sued the city of Longmont, Colo. over their local Fair Campaign Practices Act. The city eventually settled the suit and agreed to drop requirements that political donors have their identities disclosed on campaign advertisements.

And in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, WTP successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Montana Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prohibited independent expenditures by corporations to influence political campaigns — a law originally aimed at powerful mining and railroad interests in the state.

But even while it has fought to weaken election laws, WTP has at times run afoul of them. A decision issued last year by the Montana Commission of Political Practices found that the organization had broken state campaign laws by failing to register as a political committee or properly report its donors and spending. The investigation discovered that the group had solicited unlimited contributions to support pro-mining, pro-logging and pro-development candidates in Montana and avoided disclosing the contributions by passing them along to a sham political action committee that in turn ran attack ads against Democrats.

As Commissioner Dennis Unsworth said in his decision, the group’s wrongdoing “raises the specter of corruption of the electoral process.”

A window into the climate-denial industry

Paul ChesserIn the Western Tradition Partnership’s Winter 2010 newsletter, the group announced that it changed its name to the American Tradition Partnership. It also reported in an article datelined North Carolina that it had launched the American Tradition Institute, a think tank that would be “battling radical environmentalist junk science head on.”

The group would be led by Paul Chesser, who they described as a “noted climate scholar.” In fact, Chesser (photo at left) is not a scientist but has long worked in what environmental advocates call the “climate denial machine”: a network of organizations, many backed by energy interests, that work to create doubt about the science of human-caused global warming.

According to his bio, Chesser grew up in Rhode Island and worked as an accountant in Los Angeles. He launched his reporting career in North Carolina, where he edited two weekly conservative Christian newspapers, The Raleigh World and The Triad World. Now defunct, the papers were owned by World Newspaper Publishing, whose stated purpose is to “bring journalism informed by a distinctly Christian worldview to major cities across America.”

From there, Chesser moved to the John Locke Foundation (JLF), a free-market think tank based in Raleigh, N.C. that has been a leading voice of climate denial in North Carolina. The Locke Foundation decries what it calls “global warming alarmism” and promotes the views of global warming skeptics like Patrick Michaels, who left the climatologist’s office at the University of Virginia in 2007 over controversy about his funding sources and fringe views.

The Locke Foundation was founded and is largely funded by Art Pope, a North Carolina millionaire and leading conservative benefactor. As a national director of the free-market advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, Pope has close ties to the Koch brothers, the billionaire owners of the Kansas-based Koch Industries oil and chemical conglomerate and leading funders of global warming denial efforts. The Koch Family Foundations have also contributed at least $70,000 to the Locke Foundation.

It was at the Locke Foundation that Chesser began his crusade against the growing scientific consensus about climate change. He served as an editor of Carolina Journal, the group’s monthly newspaper that relentlessly attacks the science of global warming in its climate coverage. While there he also began working with Climate Strategies Watch, an initiative that sought to discredit the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group that helps states figure out ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Climate Strategies Watch was a joint project of the Locke Foundation and the Heartland Institute, a corporate-backed think tank in Chicago where Chesser also served as a special correspondent. Heartland has received at least $676,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. Between 1997 and 2008, they also received $30,000 from foundations connected to the Kochs and another $50,000 from Pope’s family foundation. One of Heartland’s government-relations advisors also served as Exxon’s senior environmental advisor.

Chesser was soon fully immersed in the climate-denial network. He became an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative think tank heavily funded by the Scaife Foundations, which are controlled by the family that owns Gulf Oil. He blogged for the Cooler Heads Coalition, an industry front group led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute — a fierce opponent of greenhouse gas regulation that has taken over $2 million from ExxonMobil as well as funding from the American Petroleum Institute, Texaco and the Koch, Scaife and Pope foundations. (ATI’s director of litigation, Christopher Horner, is a CEI fellow.)

Now at the American Tradition Institute, Chesser again finds himself speaking for a group largely bankrolled by fossil fuel interests. According to its most recent filing with the IRS, ATI last year received $40,000 from its sister group ATP, which in turn is supported by oil, gas and coal interests. It received another $5,000 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a Virginia-based think tank that since 1998 has received over $1 million in funding from Exxon Mobil; between 1997 and 2008, Atlas also received $122,300 from the Koch foundations and $735,000 from the Pope foundation.

But ATI’s biggest funder is Montana businessman Doug Lair and his Lair Family Foundation; they contributed $5,000 and $135,000 respectively to the group last year — over 75 percent of its total income.

Lair’s fortune comes from Lair Petroleum, the family business that was sold in 1989 to William Koch, the lesser-known brother of Charles and David Koch. As recently as 2010, Lair Petroleum was listed as Lair’s employer in state campaign finance reports, although now he’s also an investor in commercial and agricultural real estate.

Along with the American Tradition Partnership, Lair and another Montana resident recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Montana campaign finance laws, arguing that limits on donation amounts and corporate contributions are impermissible under the First Amendment — a suit similar to others filed by the group. The plaintiffs are represented by James Bopp Jr., a prominent conservative attorney who worked as a legal adviser to the group behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that successfully challenged strictures on corporate money in elections.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that corporate political speech is protected by the First Amendment, and you cannot ban political speech just because the speaker is a corporation,” said Bopp.

A chilling trend for academic freedom

David SchnareThe hearing on the American Tradition Institute’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the University of Virginia seeking Michael Mann’s records is set for Tuesday, Nov. 1 before Judge Gaylord Finch in Prince William County Court. The hearing was postponed from September after Finch said he wanted to allow more time for arguments because of the case’s significance.

“If it wasn’t clear before, it should now be clear to everybody,” David Schnare (photo at right), pro bono director of ATI’s Environmental Law Center, said at the time. “This is an extremely important case, and we appreciate Judge Finch’s careful attention to detail as we proceed.”

Critics say the case not only symbolizes the industry attack on climate science but is part of a growing trend of using public information requests to target academics for political reasons.

Earlier this year, the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a records request seeking materials from University of Wisconsin history professor William Cronon after he criticized Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s push for legislation to weaken public-sector unions. Soon after, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy — a free-market think tank based in Michigan — submitted Freedom of Information Act requests seeking materials related to the Wisconsin union battle from labor studies faculty at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State.

In the Cronon case, the University of Wisconsin’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution arguing that open records laws are abused when they become partisan tools. “What was begun as a classic notion of sunshine being the best disinfectant has turned into a law that’s used as a weapon to target not government officials and offices but individual public employees,” said professor Howard Schweber, one of the political scientists who helped craft the resolution.

In the end, the university released some Cronon emails but withheld others, including exchanges with students protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and what it considered private exchanges among scholars. In the Wayne State case, the think tank’s action led the university to take down some pages of its Labor Studies Center’s website and investigate whether they had violated state campaign finance laws.

The American Tradition Institute is also using open records law to target another prominent and award-winning climate scientist: James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In January, ATI filed a federal FOIA request with NASA seeking information on how Hansen “has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior.” An outspoken advocate for limiting greenhouse gas pollution, Hansen has long been a target of global-warming skeptics for his research and activism. ATI has sued NASA for withholding documents over concerns about Hansen’s privacy rights.

Peter FontaineIn the upcoming hearing on the U.Va. case, Mann’s attorney, Peter Fontaine (photo at left), told Facing South that he will argue his client should be permitted to intervene in the ATI lawsuit because of his personal interest in protecting his private email correspondence with other scientists — what Fontaine calls the “raw materials of scholarship” that lead to finished science.

“If this information is disclosed and allowed to be cherry-picked, distorted and mischaracterized, it will result in a terrible chilling of the rights of scientists to exchange their ideas,” said Fontaine, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s energy and climate change programs and an EPA air pollution enforcer in the early 1990s. “It would be a blatant violation of my client’s copyrights to his private emails, as well as his First Amendment rights and the right to academic freedom.”

Fontaine faces a formidable adversary in ATI’s Schnare, who holds advanced science degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked as an attorney with the Department of Justice and Virginia Attorney General before serving in the same EPA air-pollution enforcement job as Fontaine from 1999 until his retirement four months weeks ago. Schnare dismissed the idea that the lawsuit is targeting Mann or his scholarly position on climate science, and said he plans to argue that the professor should not be allowed to intervene.

“This case is about FOIA, not Mike Mann,” Schnare said. “If he had wanted to protect himself from embarrassing emails, he should not have pressed ‘send’ to begin with.”

(PHOTOS: Michael Mann by Greg Grieco via Wikipedia, Paul Chesser via John Locke Foundation website, David Schnare from ATI website, Peter Fontaine from Cozen O’Connor’s website.)

Scott Gessler: By the company he keeps

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler, the Republican Party’s ever-so-slick choice to run for Secretary of State this November has a dossier that only an authoritarian father-party could love.

While moaning and groaning, ranting and raving, over the influence of soft (527) money, he is up to his neck inside these organizations.

The 527 designation applies to political organizations that have tax-exempt status under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Service code.  They are organized and operated “primarily for the purpose of directly or indirectly accepting contributions or making expenditures” with the intent of influencing the “selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to Federal, State, or local public office or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential electors.”

Gessler’s group, Coloradans for Change is a 527 that took at least one massive donation of $125,000 from the Senate Majority Fund and another donation of $100,872 from the Colorado Leadership Fund.  Both groups were defendants in a lawsuit by Colorado Ethics Watch for sponsoring unethical campaign ads and skirting campaign finance laws.

Money, however, appears to flow both ways with some of these 527s.  On two occasions funds flowed from Coloradans for Change to the Colorado Leadership Fund, in one instance for $46,125.  Might this be a case of “political money laundering” or are we merely talking about political incest?  And where Scott Gessler is concerned, there’s certainly a lot of the latter going on.

Gessler is also the man behind the curtain for Colorado Conservative Voters, a 527 whose purpose is “to education Colorado citizens about issues, officeholders, and political candidates that further conservative values.”

And if all this 527 hypocrisy isn’t enough, he’s rubbing questionable elbows with a guy named Scott Shires, also connected to Coloradans for Change and the Senate Majority Fund.

Shires, along with Scott Gessler, is also listed as Western Tradition Partnership’s registered agent.  Western Tradition Partnership is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit 501c4. According to Luis Toro, general counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, these nonprofit groups have come to replace 527 organizations as the favored shell for political contributions.  They became popular after 527s faced greater disclosure requirements at the state and national level.

Gessler joined this shell game with Western Skies Coalition and Coloradans for Economic Growth, both of which have had complaints filed with the IRS presenting evidence that these organizations might have spent more of their total resources on actions that influence elections in Colorado rather than on social welfare activities, in violation of their federal tax-exempt status.

Shires, the Republican operative and front man for many 527s, has a history of violating campaign reporting regulations.  Shires has also been indicted on an alleged money laundering scheme to hide an illegal gambling operation.

Scott Shires is behind yet another 527, the Colorado League of Taxpayers who attacked Longmont council candidate Richard Juday in a January 2008 mailer.  A similar event occurred in Garfield County.  Colorado Ethics Watch sued Shires for campaign violations in that case and he was fined in excess of $7,000.

So these two “Scotts” are joined at the political hips.  Both Republican operatives.  Both of whom appear to have never met an election law for which they didn’t have contempt.

Flying further under the radar are Gessler’s other political bedfellows.  He’s allied with Coalition for a Conservative Majority (founded by Tom DeLay, who has been indicted on felony conspiracy and money-laundering charges) and he is a frequent “guest” at rightwing reactionary groups, such as the Tea Party.

Scott Gessler has the political gall to think we should make him Colorado’s next Secretary of State, the position that guarantees the security and legitimacy of our elections.   No way, Mr. Gessler.  You aren’t qualified.  It’s a matter of trust.  It’s a matter of common sense.  It’s a matter of integrity.