Rocky again omitted Republican affiliation of accused public official

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In an article about allegations that Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove "ordered investigations of current and former county employees" and others, the Rocky Mountain News did not report that Congrove is an elected Republican officeholder. The News omitted the same information from its previous reporting on two other Republican elected officials accused of wrongdoing.

Reporting on accusations that Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove "ordered investigations of current and former county employees, private citizens, fellow elected officials and an attorney involved in a federal lawsuit against him," a February 8 Rocky Mountain News article failed to identify Congrove as an elected Republican officeholder. The same type of omission has occurred in past News coverage regarding a former Jefferson County treasurer and the district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District, both Republican elected officials accused of or found to have committed wrongdoing.

According to Jefferson County's website, "Congrove was elected Jefferson County Commissioner in November 2004 and represents District 1 in the northern part of the county." The county's alphabetical listing of all county commissioners, past and current, indicates Congrove has been a Republican commissioner since taking office in 2005. The Jefferson County Republican Party also lists Congrove on its website, and a November 3, 2004, Denver Post article (accessed through the Nexis database) reporting on predicted election results stated that "two of three county commission seats were up for grabs. In District 1, Republican Jim Congrove held a lead over Democrat Scott Benefield."

The article on Congrove marks the second time in just more than a week that the News has failed to indicate the Republican Party affiliation of an elected Jefferson County official accused of malfeasance while acting in an official capacity. A January 30 News article noted that former Jefferson County treasurer Mark Paschall -- indicted on two felony counts related to a public-funds kickback scheme allegedly orchestrated during his final days in office -- lost the 2006 Republican primary in his re-election bid. However, as Colorado Media Matters noted, an opinion piece by News editorial page editor Vincent Carroll published the following day merely remarked that "the always entertaining" former treasurer was caught on tape "apparently orchestrating" the alleged scheme, without noting his party affiliation.

The News also failed to disclose the Republican Party affiliation of Carol Chambers, district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District, during its recent coverage of misconduct allegations against her. As Colorado Media Matters noted, the News reported on October 6, 2006, that Chambers was "being investigated on four counts that include threatening to convene a grand jury to investigate Jonathan R. Steiner, a lawyer hired to collect money from a committee member of the Arapahoe County Republican Party." The News omitted that Chambers is an elected Republican official and that her husband, Nathan Chambers, who allegedly was involved in the incidents described in the complaint against his wife, is chairman of the Arapahoe County Republican Party.

Although the News did identify Carol Chambers as a Republican in an October 7 article, Colorado Media Matters observed that the News subsequently published her guest editorial (accessed through the Nexis database) in which she defended herself against the charges that led ultimately to her being censured by a three-judge panel. Although in her editorial Chambers asserted that she was merely "help[ing] a constituent," as was the case with the News' previous reporting, Chambers did not mention that she and her "constituent" reportedly were acquainted through the Arapahoe County Republican Party. And again, in a December 27, 2006, editorial agreeing with the panel's decision to publicly censure Chambers "for abusing her office to help out an acquaintance," the News failed to identify Chambers as a Republican or point out that she was familiar with her "acquaintance" through political circles.

From the February 8 Rocky Mountain News article "Jeffco official accused of snooping," by reporter Charley Able:

Commissioner Jim Congrove ordered investigations of current and former county employees, private citizens, fellow elected officials and an attorney involved in a federal lawsuit against him, according to one of those targeted.

At least some of the investigations were paid for by taxpayers and conducted by Congrove's longtime friend, Daril Cinquanta, a former Denver police officer used by the county on Congrove's recommendation.

The investigations ended last spring when Congrove's fellow Jefferson County commissioners, Dave Auburn and Kevin McCasky, ordered them halted.

Auburn accused Congrove of creating "an environment of fear," and said Congrove also recruited county employees into a network of informants.

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