9News failed to note criticism that Allard's immigration field hearing was politically motivated

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In a story about a Senate Budget Committee hearing on immigration sponsored by Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, KUSA 9News reporter Shawn Patrick failed to note critics' arguments that the hearing was held in Aurora for political reasons. Patrick told viewers only that Allard wanted to listen to Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) and Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer.

On the August 30 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 5 p.m., reporter Shawn Patrick failed to note critics' arguments that an immigration hearing of the Senate Budget Committee sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) was held in Aurora for political reasons. Patrick told viewers only that Allard wanted to listen to Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) and Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer. When co-anchor Bob Kendrick asked, "What was the point of Senator Wayne Allard bringing a typical Washington meeting onto the road?," Patrick replied, "[T]his was his [Allard's] chance to listen to those statistics from Governor Owens and also from Aurora's mayor, saying that these are the people on the front lines whose governments are spending the millions every year because of illegal immigration."

In mentioning only the testimony of Owens and Tauer as a possible motivation for Allard's hearing, Patrick failed to inform viewers that Democrats and other critics of the hearing have argued that the motivation was political. For example, an August 30 article in The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported, "Critics, including Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., have derided the hearing as nothing more than election-year politics. Cody Wertz, Salazar's spokesman, said Salazar wasn't invited." The Gazette of Colorado Springs further reported that Rep. Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) said, "The time for informative field hearings was last year, before the House and Senate passed [immigration reform] bills" and that Udall said, "At this last stage, field hearings look more like a cheap political stunt than an honest attempt at crafting legislation."

An August 31 Rocky Mountain News article also reported that "[c]ritics charge that the Aurora hearing and others this summer were partisan attempts to boost the Republican Party and stir up opposition to Democrat-supported reform measures that take a softer approach to the immigration problem."

Allard's Aurora hearing was one of a series of recent immigration "field hearings" led by Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives. An August 19 Denver Post editorial about Allard's hearing stated, "Maybe it was just the luck of the draw that landed at least 15 of the 21 House immigration hearings in battleground districts around the country." The Post added, "Perhaps it's a coincidence that ruling Republicans scheduled the hearing in the heart of the 7th Congressional District," which includes Aurora. The Post further noted that "[i]n the 7th, Republican Rick O'Donnell's campaign has identified illegal immigration as 'hands down the No. 1 issue' of voters in the district."

The New York Times reported August 7 that "some Democratic and Republican lawmakers said the schedule of the hearings had only heightened their concerns that the Republican leadership was using immigration as a weapon in the battle over fiercely contested House and Senate seats around the country." The Times reported that hearings were scheduled for "districts where Republican lawmakers are engaged in competitive races for the House" and that "[l]awmakers and political analysts say the hearings may help vulnerable Republicans":

Several immigration hearings are being held far from the border with Mexico, in districts where Republican lawmakers are engaged in competitive races for the House, including Evansville, Ind.; Concord, N.H.; and Glens Falls, N.Y. Hearings are also being held in Dubuque, Iowa, where Republicans are fighting to hold on to the seat being vacated by Representative Jim Nussle, and in Hamilton, Mont., where Senator Conrad Burns faces a tough challenge.

Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, which set hearings in four battleground districts, said more than 60 members of the House had asked for immigration hearings in their hometowns.

Lawmakers and political analysts say the hearings may help vulnerable Republicans by rallying conservatives, who view Democrats as being weak on border security, and by drawing attention away from other issues like the war in Iraq and President Bush's diminished approval ratings.

In contrast to the 9News report, during the August 30 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4News at 5 p.m., reporter Terry Jessup said, "[W]e talked earlier about why this debate was held here in Aurora. The Democrats say the Republicans orchestrated this to generate the anti-immigration vote in this controversial 7th district election coming up. Senator Allard's camp told me they had it here in Aurora simply because it's close to DIA [Denver International Airport]. They had a lot of Washington officials here today. They wanted to be close to the airport."

From the August 30 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 5 p.m.:

KENDRICK: Governor Owens says that every child born to an illegal immigrant in Colorado costs the state $3,500. Added together, thousands of those immigrants cost millions more in education and health care. Those just some of the statistics that Owens raised before a Senate Budget Committee today in Aurora. 9News reporter Shawn Patrick joins us from there live now. Shawn, what was the point of Senator Wayne Allard bringing a typical Washington meeting onto the road?

PATRICK: Well, Bob, this was his chance to listen to those statistics from Governor Owens and also from Aurora's mayor, saying that these are the people on the front lines whose governments are spending the millions every year because of illegal immigration. Governor Owens, one of those who testified before the Senate Budget Committee today. But there were a few who could not talk and had plenty to say that had to sit in that audience but wanted their voices to be heard. Those supporters of immigrant rights outside today shouting with a couple of opponents before the hearings saying that they wanted to talk to the Senate Budget Committee, in fact several groups wrote letters for permission but were denied.

From the August 30 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4News at 5 p.m.:

JESSUP: And that hearing just ended a short time ago. They did not make any decisions here today. They were just documenting testimony, facts, and figures surrounding this debate. Now, we talked earlier about why was this held here in Aurora. The Democrats say the Republicans orchestrated this to generate the anti-immigration vote in this controversial 7th district election coming up. Senator Allard's camp told me they had it here in Aurora simply because it is close to DIA. They had a lot of Washington officials here today. They wanted to be close to the airport. That's the very latest from Aurora.

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