Caldara repeated falsehood that Merrifield received "70 percent of his campaign war chest from organized labor"

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Jon Caldara repeated on his Newsradio 850 KOA show the falsehood that state Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs), who resigned as chairman of the House Education Committee last week after an email he wrote criticizing charter school supporters, received "70 percent" of his 2006 re-election funding from organized labor. Figures show only 29.5 percent of Merrifield's campaign contributions came from organized labor.

During the April 2 broadcast of his show, Newsradio 850 KOA host and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara repeated the falsehood that for his 2006 re-election, state Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) "received a staggering 70 percent ... of his campaign war chest from organized labor." In fact, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP), only 29.5 percent of Merrifield's total campaign contributions were from organized labor.

As Colorado Media Matters noted, Caldara criticized Merrifield during his March 29 broadcast for an email Merrifield sent to a colleague in December that stated proponents of charter schools deserve "a special place in hell." After the email's public disclosure, on March 30 Merrifield apologized and resigned his chairmanship of the House Education Committee. On his April 2 broadcast, Caldara cited the weblog of the Center for Union Facts as the source of his false information about Merrifield's campaign contributions:

CALDARA: And the blog from the Center for Union Facts learned this very simple, simple thing that we actually should have done ourselves last week when we found out this delicious news. But I'll leave this for an opportunity for us to just taste in that great delight of last week. Mike Merrifield's top donor in his 2006 re-election campaign was -- drum roll, please -- yes, we know who it was: the Colorado Education Association. Hmm. Hmm. I guess that leads me to a simple question: If there's a special place in hell for those of us who want charters and vouchers, is there a special place in heaven for union bosses? Get this: "In fact, Merrifield received a staggering 70 percent" -- that's a seven and a zero -- "70 percent of his campaign war chest from organized labor."

According to its website, the Center for Union Facts is a "non-profit organization supported by foundations, businesses, union members, and the general public ... dedicated to showing Americans the truth about today's union leadership." The center's blog, called Labor Pains, includes an entry dated March 30 that cites NIMSP as its source for the false claim that "Merrifield received a staggering 70 percent of his campaign chest from organized labor." In fact, according to NIMSP, Merrifield received $29,000 from labor out of a contribution total of $98,375, or 29.5 percent, for 2006. Labor Pains appears to have misconstrued a chart in Merrifield's NIMSP entry that shows the distribution of campaign contributions from just three categories: Labor, Business, and Party. Of this subset -- which at $40,719 constitutes roughly 40 percent of Merrifield's total -- labor contributions represent 71.2 percent. However, the Labor/Business/Party subset does not include contributions from numerous other categories, such as approximately $11,950 (12.1 percent) in contributions of $200 or more from individuals, and $1,250 (1.3 percent) received from schools and colleges, among other non-included categories.

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