Reporter Threatened With Arrest After Asking For CO Governor’s Tax Returns
By Greg Campbell – BarbWire guest contributor
A reporter for the Colorado Watchdog website was threatened with arrest if he didn’t leave Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign headquarters, where he’d come to demand copies of the Democratic incumbent’s tax returns.
Reporter Arthur Kane writes on the news site that he was rebuffed by campaign spokesman Eddie Stern, who steered him out of the campaign office and threatened to call police if Kane didn’t leave.
“I’ve been asking you for a month and half for the tax returns,” Kane quoted himself as saying, noting that he recorded the conversation even though Stern asked him not to.
“Again, this is a private office,” Stern said. “We’re asking you to leave or I’m going to have to call police.”
“You’re going to call police on a reporter?” Kane asked. “You haven’t been able to answer my phone calls, you haven’t been able to provide me with documents I asked for. Just answer the question and I’ll leave. Are you going to give me the tax returns or not?”
Candidates are not required to make their personal tax returns public, but Hickenlooper’s office had given them to other media outlets in the past, according to the Watchdog. Kane reported that his attempts to be given the same documents were ignored by the campaign, leaving him no choice but to ask for them in person.
Prior to his confrontation with Stern, Kane said he asked the governor about them after a press conference.
“I think what we’ve done is release them to every legitimate media operation that we know of,” Kane quotes Hickenlooper as saying, ignoring a follow up question as to whether Hickenlooper believes Colorado Watchdog is a “legitimate media organization.”
The Watchdog site is one of several state franchises set up by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which in turn has Charles and David Koch as primary investors, according to the Colombia Journalism Review.
Denver media attorney Steve Zansberg told Kane that while office tenants can ask a person to leave their premises, simply entering the public lobby of an office building during business hours isn’t grounds for a trespassing charge.
When Kane argued with Hickenlooper’s campaign staff that “I’m just trying to get some answers,” he was told by Hickenlooper’s senior media adviser, Maximillian Potter, “You’re just interested in attacking.”
Kane reported that Potter then repeated “his new slogan” over and over: “You’re interested in attacks, not facts.”
Hickenlooper’s opponent, Republican Bob Beauprez, gave Colorado Watchdog his tax returns for a future story, Kane reported.
Greg Campbell is author of Blood Diamonds, Flawless and more. His website is bygregcampbell.com.
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