Durango Herald repeated Coffman's charge that Gordon accepts "special interest" money -- but provided no evidence and no response from Gordon

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

A Durango Herald article repeated Republican Secretary of State candidate Mike Coffman's assertion that his Democratic opponent, Ken Gordon, takes "special interest" campaign donations, but didn't provide evidence to support Coffman's charge or a response from Gordon's campaign.

An October 22 Durango Herald article by reporter Joe Hanel uncritically repeated Republican Secretary of State candidate Mike Coffman's claim that Democratic candidate Ken Gordon's frequent statements that he does not accept "special interest" campaign donations are "blatantly false." The Herald article provided no evidence to support Coffman's charge. Moreover, the Herald provided no response from Gordon and gave no indication that it had attempted to contact Gordon's campaign for a response.

In the article, the Herald described an ad by the Gordon campaign, a version of which is available on his campaign website. In the ad, Gordon asserts that he is "the only candidate in this race who doesn't take special interest money" and that he will be "independent of special interests."

After describing the ad, the Herald uncritically reported that Coffman "said Gordon does take money from lobbyists and special interests." The Herald quoted Coffman as saying, "He's never really said what he's going to do as secretary of state. ... He's just running by saying, 'I don't take special interest money,' which is blatantly false." The Herald article included no evidence to support or refute Coffman's charge and did not provide a response from Gordon. The paper gave no indication of whether it had contacted Gordon about Coffman's charge.

Other newspapers have noted Gordon's assertion that he does not accept special interest money. Rocky Mountain News political columnist Peter Blake reported October 18 that "Gordon maintains he has refused all special-interest money, even small-donor committee funds from labor unions." And in an October 3 editorial endorsing Coffman, the Daily Camera of Boulder stated, "Gordon is rightly proud of the fact that he is refusing donations from political-action committees."

From Hanel's October 22 Durango Herald article, "Political ads tilt toward humor":

State Sen. Ken Gordon is running for secretary of state as a Democrat. To drum up attention, he put on a wetsuit and jumped into a shark tank, holding one of his campaign signs. He's unintelligible through his SCUBA gear, so subtitles tell his story.

"In politics, there are special interest sharks, like pharmaceutical and oil companies," Gordon says.

The camera cuts to a shark chomping on a fish.

"See that little fish? That would be you," Gordon says.

He then pledges to be fair to everyone.

The ad was scheduled to premiere on statewide cable Friday. His opponent, Republican Mike Coffman, said Gordon does take money from lobbyists and special interests.

"He's never really said what he's going to do as secretary of state," Coffman said. "He's just running by saying, 'I don't take special interest money,' which is blatantly false."

Gordon's ad is reminiscent of another political stuntman, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Last year, Hickenlooper jumped out of an airplane to urge people to vote for Referendum C.

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