You’re All Grand Old Flags

I’ve got two tickets to the Nacchio trial. Center court. Three rows back.

An aide to former Sen. Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell will plead guilty on Friday in a long-running case of corruption. As Anne Mulkern of The Denver Post reports (after the jump):

Ginnie Kontnik, longtime top aide to former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, will plead guilty Friday to a charge of knowingly receiving a kickback from an employee she supervised.

While working in Campbell’s office, Kontnik submitted a public disclosure statement that “she knew to be materially false,” Edward C. Nucci, acting chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, alleged in documents filed Friday in Denver District Court.

Kontnik, 51, is said to have knowingly omitted from her Senate financial disclosure report $2,000 in cash she received from an employee. The charge, a misdemeanor, carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, but government officials said in court documents they will not seek jail time.

Kontnik’s plea bargain comes three years after The Denver Post first published that she received a payment from employee Brian Thompson.
The Post reported that Kontnik paid Thompson a bonus and then demanded a portion back in order to pay legal fees related to her divorce. Kontnik acknowledged receiving the money but characterized it as reimbursement for “Senate/political expenses.”

A short time later, it was reported that Campbell and Kontnik pushed a controversial no- bid contract for Thinkstream Inc., a company co-owned by one of the Colorado Republican’s top fundraisers. Citing health problems, Campbell reversed his decision to seek a third term and decided to retire.

Campbell’s retirement opened the door for then-Attorney General Ken Salazar to run for the U.S. Senate against eventual GOP candidate Pete Coors.


Former Republican Rep. Scott McInnis, to this point the only announced candidate for the U.S. Senate on the GOP side, is hoping to dissuade Attorney General John Suthers from entering the race. As Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Former Republican Congressman Scott McInnis is worried about the repercussions of Attorney General John Suthers running for the U.S. Senate in 2008, a campaign staff member confirmed Monday.

Susan Smith, spokeswoman for the former Grand Junction Congressman and 2008 Senate hopeful, said McInnis is worried about the consequences of Suthers leaving his position as the state’s top law enforcement officer either to run for office or after his election.

Both scenarios would clear the way for Gov. Bill Ritter to make a Democratic appointment to the vacated seat.

“(McInnis) did express concern about jeopardizing the attorney general’s seat when he read (the) article about John,” Smith said. “But if that’s part of the process and that’s what we do, that’s what we do. But he does feel like it’s not advantageous to the party for obvious reasons.”

Suthers said Friday he has been courted to run for the seat Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., is vacating at the end of his present term.

Suthers also gets a mention in today’s Washington Post:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (R) said Sunday that he is considering a run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Wayne Allard (R) in 2008.

“The attorney general hasn’t made a decision,” spokesman Nate Strauch said yesterday. He declined to offer a timeline for Suthers to make up his mind.

It’s no secret that Suthers has always wanted to run for the U.S. Senate or congress, but it remains to be seen whether he would be considered a truly viable candidate by the GOP establishment after a lackluster 2006 election.


Colorado Springs police have launched an investigation into arrests made at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. As Cara DeGette of Colorado Confidential reports:

Colorado Springs police have launched an internal investigation into the arrests of seven men and women during last Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in which officers were captured on camera and videotape dragging 65-year old Elizabeth Fineron across the street, resulting in a nasty road rash on her upper thigh and stomach.

The images also show police holding retired Catholic priest Frank Cordaro in a pressure point control that is designed to force compliance through pain, as well as detainees lying face down on the street in handcuffs as parade-watchers look on.

For more on DeGette’s original reporting on this story, click here. Or click here. Or if you’d like, click here.


Haven’t you always wanted to ask Governor Bill Ritter a question?

There’s no need to hide it – I know you have. Thanks to Colorado Confidential, now you can!

Under a special arrangement with the Aaron Harber Show, Colorado Confidential readers can submit questions for an Electronic Town Hall being taped this week. Read the story for more information, and keep in mind that questions must be submitted no later than 6:00 p.m. today.


Speaking of Ritter, his proposal to manipulate property taxes to pay for school funding is still generating controversy…and it’s nothing new. As Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

A property tax manipulation proposed by Gov. Bill Ritter last week to stabilize school funding has been considered by lawmakers at least since 2004. But they rejected it as either illegal or unpopular, even as a crisis in funding education loomed larger with each budget year.

“The property tax is never a popular tax and it never will be,” said former House Majority Leader Keith King, R-Colorado Springs. King opposed a 2004 proposal similar to the one Ritter has put forward. “I think, frankly, Gov. Ritter is taking a huge political risk,” King said.

Colorado schools are funded by a combination of local property taxes and state aid. At the heart of the current problem is a Gordian knot of state constitutional amendments and statutes that drives school spending up while driving property taxes down. The result is an increasing demand for state money to fill the budget gaps in the 178 school districts.

That situation is unsustainable, Ritter warned last week. Projections show a $100 million deficit in the state school fund by the 2011-12 school year, Ritter said. Ritter wants to repeal part of a 1994 school finance act that pushes down the school portion of the local property tax. He would freeze property tax rates indefinitely at current levels, bringing in an estimated $65 million more per year.
If his measure passes, property owners will forgo tax reductions beginning in 2008.

Republicans have called Ritter’s proposal to freeze property tax rates a “tax increase.” Their solution to funding schools is to find some of those trees that grow the money.


Sex-addicted pastors, you have been put on notice.

As Jean Torkelson of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

If you’re a pastor plagued with sexual addictions, come clean or your discovery is virtually guaranteed.

And it will be messy.

That’s what a noted Christian therapist told 170 pastors gathered Monday for a conference prompted by last year’s downfall of Colorado evangelist Ted Haggard.

What’s more, said Harry Schaumburg, Haggard apparently has a lot of secret company: It’s likely that 50 percent of Christian clergy, as well as church members, are in a losing struggle with pornography and related behaviors, he said.
Schaumburg, a licensed family and marriage therapist, is executive director of Stone Gate Resources, a counseling retreat center in Larkspur, and author of False Intimacy, Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction, published in 1992.
“We’re in a real crisis,” Schaumburg told the audience at Crossroads Church in Thornton. “Sexual sin is something that’s done in secret, but when God exposes, it’s in the broad daylight.

“So I am begging you – come forward now.”


As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports, Democrats are feuding over flags. Down by the seashore.

A measure to allow public schools to permanently display foreign flags is on its way to the governor despite a flap between Senate Democrats.

Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, lost a fight to amend the bill to make it a petty offense to display a foreign flag in manner that would disturb the peace. “We need to make sure that we are protecting our American flag,” said Tochtrop. “We don’t want to be allowing the display of any flag in a manner that it incites a riot.”

But fellow Democrats called the proposed penalty redundant, saying state law already makes it a petty offense to display the flag in a manner that would “breach the peace.”

“There are a number of reasons why a person can be arrested, from inciting a riot to disorderly conduct,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora. “The purpose of this bill is so that you don’t have to move around flags of another country.”

House Bill 1050, also by Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, is meant to clear up confusion about state law banning the permanent display of foreign flags in public buildings. In August, Jefferson County school officials briefly suspended a Carmody Middle School geography teacher for displaying the flags of China, Mexico and the United Nations in class.

Soon after, officials determined the flags were exempt under a state law that allows “temporary display” of foreign flags for educational reasons.

You know what the real problem is here, don’t you? Gay marriage.

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