McInnis paid $300,000 by Hasan family for odd water research project

Over the weekend, the Hasan Family Foundation at last posted a series of articles on its website called “Musings on Water” authored by GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. These are some of the articles the six-term congressman authored for a hefty $300,000 from the prominent Colorado conservative donor Hasan family for work to be completed in 2005 and 2006. It’s a gig that would make even the few non-struggling writers in the state green with envy.

The 12 articles, plus five speeches and several TV interviews, appear to be some, but not all, of the work McInnis produced during his two-year fellowship at the Hasan Family Foundation, for which he was paid $300,000– $150,000 per year, according to the foundation’s attorney Glenn Merrick. It’s unclear why the Hasan Family Foundation sought to fund a series of articles on water and why McInnis was the top choice to produce them.

In a Dec. 2, 2005, memo accompanying the articles, McInnis writes that his work for 2005 “resulted in 12 researched articles (in a series format that requires continued research) supported by speaking engagements.”

But three of the 12 articles listed as his work product for 2005 are missing. The missing titles are: “Who gets the water? Nothing much has really changed,” “West of the 100th Meriden (sic),” and “Dividing the Waters.”

McInnis expected to write over a dozen more articles in 2006, during the second year of his fellowship, according to his end-of-the-year memo in 2005.

“At this point I think we are well on track to have a very active 2006, including 15 to 20 more articles and several speeches,” McInnis wrote in 2005.

But only three articles stamped with 2006 dates were released by the Hasan Family Foundation. So either McInnis came way short of producing the expected 15 to 20 articles in 2006, or most of his 2006 work has yet to be released.

Each of the articles posted on the foundation website has “MUSINGS ON WATER” at the top, usually followed by a headline beneath it, like “A River Stretched too Far” or “A Start for the Upper Basin.”

Each article concludes with “Thank you until next time.”

The first article in the series begins: “WATER! It is an absolute human and economic necessity. WATER! You and I cannot live without it. Colorado’s economy and people absolutely depend on water.”

The articles are mostly descriptive, with some opinions and interpretations interspersed.

Oddly, the titles of the missing articles indicate that they might contain more of McInnis’ opinions on water issues, but who knows, given the content of the articles that were released. McInnis wrote in his cover memo to the foundation that, per the agreement between him and the foundation, his articles were “written at a level that non-water experts could easily understand.”

This seems to be true, but I’m familiar enough about Colorado water issues to know that as a “non-water expert,” I’m in no position to evaluate these articles.

I asked Foundation attorney Merrick if the Foundation had other McInnis’ water articles that were not posted and if McInnis was consulted.

“In response to your questions, Mr. McInnis served as a Hasan Family Foundation Fellow for two years and received $150,000 per year in that capacity,” he responded via email. “The decision to publish his work product for the Foundation was made exclusively by the Foundation. Neither Mr. McInnis nor any of his staff or advisors was consulted about the decision. All of Mr. McInnis’ work product in the possession of the Foundation is being published.”

Merrick leaves open the possibility that more articles exist, possibly in McInnis’ possession, but the Hasan Foundation does not have them. Previously, you recall, Merrick told me that McInnis would have to release the articles himself.

In addition to the articles, memo, and news release, the Foundation posted a revised description of McInnis’ fellowship, as well as an updated photo.

[Flickr Photo via McInnis for Colorado]

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About the Author

Jason Salzman

Former freelance media critic at the Rocky, he now blogs at www.bigmedia.org.
Jason@bigmedia.org | @bigmediablog

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