Post editorial about Jeffco scandals failed to identify two officials as Republicans

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

A Denver Post editorial about "political shenanigans" by three elected Jefferson County officials omitted the fact that two of those cited were Republicans and noted the GOP affiliation of the third only indirectly. The omissions repeat a pattern in Rocky Mountain News coverage of scandals involving current and former Colorado Republican officials.

A February 25 editorial in The Denver Post about "political shenanigans" among three public officials in Jefferson County failed to note the Republican affiliation of two figures cited in the editorial -- former County Commissioner Rick Sheehan and current County Commissioner Jim Congrove -- and only indirectly noted the GOP affiliation of the third. The omissions repeat a pattern that Colorado Media Matters has noted in the Rocky Mountain News regarding its coverage of scandals involving Congrove, former Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall, and District Attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District Carol Chambers.

The editorial (an online version appeared February 24) noted the "crooked politics, embarrassing gaffes and downright stupid political stunts" of three elected Jefferson County officials, citing only Paschall's party affiliation -- and even then only implicitly, by virtue of his having "briefly flirted with a GOP run for Congress last year":

They may sound like allegations ripped from the headlines in Washington, D.C., but these political shenanigans -- and that's a rather tepid description of them -- are happening in Jefferson County.

For the past several years, county residents have endured more than their share of crooked politics, embarrassing gaffes and downright stupid political stunts from their elected leaders.

Remember the "Pinky T." faxes? It was just two years ago that Jefferson County Commissioner Rick Sheehan resigned after it was revealed his relatives sent some raunchy faxes, signed Pinky T., to a gadfly critic of the county in hopes of tricking him into publishing libelous material on his website.

The episode cost the county more than $60,000 in legal bills.

That was just the beginning.

Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey recently announced that he has asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to follow up on allegations that County Commissioner Jim Congrove used taxpayer money to hire a friendly PI to investigate private citizens.

The county paid Professional Investigators, a firm operated by former Denver police officer Daril Cinquanta, more than $7,500 last year to investigate Mike Zinna, the same critic who received the Pinky T. faxes, and other residents. Cinquanta, of course, is also a friend of Congrove's.

Then, in another scandal, former county Treasurer Mark Paschall recently was indicted in an alleged kickback scheme.

Paschall, who campaigned as a fiscal conservative and briefly flirted with a GOP run for Congress last year, is accused of offering a $25,092 pre-tax bonus to his administrative assistant, Kathy Redmond, and then asking her to split the money with him. He has been charged with one count of attempted felony theft and one count of compensation for past official behavior.

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 News identified Sheehan as a Republican in a March 1, 2005, article (accessed through Nexis) reporting that the Jefferson County Republican Party's five-person vacancy committee had selected "Republican Dave Auburn" to fill Sheehan's seat after Sheehan "agreed to resign" on February 9, 2005. The News noted that Auburn "was Sheehan's opponent in the 2002 GOP primary."

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