Norton continues to spout bogus budget lines

In a debate with Ken Buck on Sunday’s YourShow, Adam Schrager’s public affairs show on Channel 20, U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton cited Schrager’s own Truth-Test reporting to support her contentions that, under the leadership of her primary opponent Ken Buck, the Weld County D.A. budget increased by 40 percent and that, as director of the Colorado Health Department, Norton cut the general fund budget by 28 percent. She has been proven wrong on both counts, including in the Schrager pieces she cited.

Schrager immediately corrected Norton on the 40 percent figure, reminding her that his Truth Test piece determined Buck’s budget had risen by 31 percent not 40 percent.

After correcting Norton on her 40 percent figure, Schrager turned the mic over to Buck, who told Norton that the Truth Test also reported that she had not cut the health department budget.

Schrager didn’t intervene and render a verdict on whether his Truth Test supported Norton’s claim that she cut the health department budget or Buck’s claim that she didn’t. So I asked Schrager about it via email.

There’s a little more to this right off the bat, but fundamentally, I let it slip.

First of all, she approached the CDPHE point differently than I had her mention it before. Had she said she cut the budget, it would have been a no-brainer, but I heard something different and it was live TV and frankly, I didn’t process exactly what she said until I went back to the tape.

The ad says she cut budgets and for the reasons I articulated, that is incorrect. It’s a power given to lawmakers and the governor. But in the debate, she specifically phrases it differently saying the general fund, “what I had responsibility for, I cut 28 percent.” I got caught up on the general fund and the “what I had responsibility for” lines and I missed the “I cut” because that obviously brings up the same point as before. Department heads play roles in the process but they are not the end arbiters of their fate. She’s also incorrect when she says he’s grown his budget as he’s also not in control of his budget, but the Weld County Commission is.

I’ve also made clear to Buck’s folks, if they accuse her of raising her budget, I’ll disagree with that for the same reasons as above.

As I have written previously, three major news outlets have reported, based on three different readings of the facts, that Norton did not cut her heath department budget. What’s more, no budget experts have been cited supporting Norton’s position.

In ongoing reporting on this topic, Fox31 (which was the first Denver news outlet to show that Norton was misleading viewers on this issue) is pointing out to viewers that Norton did not cut her CDHPE budget. As Fox31’s Eli Stokols reported Tuesday:

On the campaign trail, Norton has continued to tell voters that she cut spending at CDPHE, even though, as Fox31 was first to report in March, the budgets she oversaw have shown that spending actually increased slightly during her tenure.

That’s the most fair and accurate way to describe what happened to the CDPHE budget under Norton.

Here’s a transcript of the exchange between Buck and Norton on YourShow July 22.

Norton: Both Ken and I have had budgets that have been entrusted to us by the taxpayers of Colorado. I have had two, one when I was head of the state health department. And the general fund appropriation, according to your fact check, what I had responsibility for, I cut 28 percent, in the four years I was in office. I was also lieutenant governor, and in the four years I cut what I has responsibility for, according to your fact check, by 10 percent.  Ken on the other hand talks about being for limited government but he has grown his budget at Weld County District Attorney’s office by 40 percent over the time he’s been in office. So you can say you’re a fiscal conservative, and you can say you believe in limited government, but does your record match your rhetoric.

Schrager: Our truth test actually showed it was 31 percent that the Weld County District Attorney’s office went up, but I assume you want to speak to that anyhow.

Buck:  You know, don’t let truth get in the way of a good political message. The fact check on Jane’s most recent commercial shows that she was false when she says that she cut her budget and false when she says my budget went up 40 percent.  She continues to repeat those lines as if repeating them will make them true.  It won’t make them true


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About the Author

Jason Salzman

Former freelance media critic at the Rocky, he now blogs at | @bigmediablog

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