On KNUS' Backbone Radio, Andrews and Wadhams repeated smear against Democratic state Senate president

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Colorado Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams smeared state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Denver) during the March 4 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio by repeating the baseless claim that she improperly consulted with the Mexican government on enforcing immigration laws the legislature passed last year. Wadhams and host John Andrews also derided Democrats for introducing "regulatory bills," but ignored similar measures sponsored by Republicans.

On the March 4 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, newly elected state Republican chairman Dick Wadhams falsely claimed that Democratic state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald "ask[ed] ... the Mexican government to tell us which laws we should be enforcing" -- a claim that echoed a distortion host John Andrews had made on a previous broadcast. Wadhams and Andrews also suggested that Democrats in the state legislature were responsible for "a swarm of nanny-state regulatory bills," but did not note that Republican legislators also have introduced similar regulatory bills.

Colorado Media Matters already has noted (here and here) the baseless allegation against Fitz-Gerald, made on the December 10, 2006, and January 21 broadcasts of Backbone Radio and on the December 11, 2006, broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show. Parroting Boyles and Andrews, Wadhams repeated the smear that Fitz-Gerald acted improperly in communicating with the Mexican consul on enforcement of House Bill 1023, a state law enacted August 1, 2006, aimed at curbing illegal immigration by requiring proof of citizenship in order to receive a variety of public services.

From the March 4 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:

ANDREWS: As you have repeatedly pointed out, and we'll let you fill in the details in a minute, there is an opportunity with Democrats in control for Coloradans to get a good look at how Democrats govern, and for the nation to get a good look at what a Democrat Congress means, being obstructionist against our Republican president. Overall, how do you size up the -- the opportunities of '07 that would set the table for a Republican successes in '06 --'08?

WADHAMS: Well -- well I think you're -- I think the other thing that's playing into this optimism, John, is that we've seen just enough from the Democrats in Congress and the Democrats in the state Capitol here in Colorado to see just what -- what kind of mentality won those elections in, in 2006. And I think that's another reason for Republican optimism and Republican enthusiasm about getting back into the fight. I mean, we -- even before they -- they officially took control of the legislature and Congress, I mean, we saw the Democrats, especially here in Colorado, with some crazy ideas. I mean, you had the, you had the -- good old Joan Fitz-Gerald, the president of the Senate, asking the, the Mexican government to tell us which laws we should be enforcing. We had Ken Gordon equating the Iraqi terrorists to, to patriots.

Contrary to Wadhams' statement that Fitz-Gerald had asked the Mexican government "which laws we should be enforcing," the Rocky Mountain News reported on December 8, 2006, that Fitz-Gerald had "asked the Mexican Consulate for a list of government agencies that it charges may be violating the intent and spirit of the state's new anti-immigration law." The News noted Fitz-Gerald's "growing concern that illegal immigrants and legal Colorado residents are being denied public benefits for which they are entitled since the passage of House Bill 1023." As the News reported:

The law, however, does not apply to emergency medical care, programs for children under 18, a host of medical services such as immunizations and prenatal care and certain federal programs, such as food stamps, that prohibit state intrusion.

The Mexican Consulate in Denver said Thursday it has documented cases in which undocumented immigrants, as well as U.S. citizens, are being denied public benefits, police protection and other services they're entitled to.

During the broadcast, Andrews and Wadhams also sought to portray state Democratic legislators as "embarrassing" because of their sponsorship of supposedly overly indulgent regulatory bills. Wadhams and Andrews failed to note, however, that Republican legislators have been the primary sponsors of numerous regulatory, or "nanny-state," bills:

ANDREWS: But meanwhile, don't you feel better to know that the -- our busy, enterprising Democrat majority in the legislature has got a swarm of nanny-state regulatory bills coming along to protect us from dangers that -- that we never dreamed of? I haven't been losing sleep about any renegade art therapist.

WADHAMS: [laughs]

ANDREWS: But, is it true that we're going to have them regulated now?

WADHAMS: That's my favorite. I mean, there's a whole slew of them that they're, they're, they're -- they're throwing through the process. But I -- first of all, John, I -- I wasn't even aware that we had art therapists. I didn't even know what it was, and I darn sure didn't know we didn't need to regulate them. But apparently there's some great threat to Colorado by renegade art therapists, and we need to -- we need to get this under control immediately. I mean, these -- this, this crowd that's in, in control of the legislature right now, are incredible. They're also kind of embarrassing -- I mean, the way they do things. And -- but, I, I just continue -- they continue to do this kinda -- these kinds of crazy things. Because this is going to be a target-rich environment, and they will not be able to restrain themselves over the next year and a half.

Andrews and Wadhams apparently were referring to House Bill 1080, legislation that would " 'protect the mental health consumer' from charlatans masquerading as art therapists without the proper masters or doctorate degrees," as sponsor Judy Solano (D-Brighton) was quoted as saying in a February 24 News article. As Colorado Media Matters noted, the News appended a list of seven other regulatory bills to the article, four of which had Republican sponsors:

  • HB 1083, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Stafford (R-Aurora) and Sen. Josh Penry (R-Fruita), to require the licensing of private investigators.
  • HB 1126, sponsored by Rep. Anne McGihon (D-Denver) and Sen. Steve Johnson (R-Fort Collins), to expand the Physical Therapist Act to permit physical therapists to work on animals as well as human beings.
  • HB 1231, sponsored by Stafford, to require the licensing of mortuary science practitioners.
  • SB 84, sponsored by Sen. Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs), Fitz-Gerald (D-Denver), Rep. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge), and Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs), to require the state board of licensure for architects and engineers to maintain a database of registered interior designers.
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