A coalition of Colorado Latino leaders who mostly back Sen. Michael Bennet in the campaign for U.S. Senate blasted Andrew Romanoff for a photo-doctoring blunder that’s becoming a kind of “photoshop-gate” full-on scandal. The Democratic candidate’s campaign was sidetracked this week when Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels wrote a short piece at the paper’s online blogsite detailing how the campaign had reworked crowd shots of a Romanoff event to create one long horizontal banner at the top of the site’s donate page.
The banner montage uses as its anchor a photo that appears large on the opening page of the Romanoff website. Two other shots are pasted in and one of the photos is a snap of Denver School Board candidate Andrea Mosby.
Mosby is African American and Bartels suggested she was deliberately placed next to Romanoff particularly to make the candidate appear ethnically diverse in his appeal. Mosby said that in fact she was at the event and didn’t mind be pasted into the banner shot. She’s a Romanoff supporter. That was Wednesday.
In a Thursday Denver Post offline edition column, Susan Greene took Bartel’s implication and ran with it and got some of the facts muddled in the process.
The most obvious manipulation is the insertion of a woman who appears prominently in the center of the picture just between the words “Andrew Romanoff United States Senate” and the image of the candidate. She is African-American. Another man whose likeness was digitally added, prominently, to the picture appears to be Latino. Several more supporters inserted in the scene are smiling admiringly toward the candidate.
The effect is to make Romanoff’s crowd of boosters look bigger, more adoring and more racially diverse than in the original snapshot taken in Denver’s Washington Park in September.
It’s not clear which “Latino man” man Greene believes was photoshopped into the banner but a cursory look at the original photo makes clear the two main Latinos at the center part of the photo were not photoshopped.
It was in responding to Greene that Romanoff’s latest spokesperson Roy Teicher (he is number four) went off the rails.
“Those minority folks were absolutely at the rally,” he adds. “We were just simply moving around random people for aesthetic reasons. It’s absolutely an accepted technique. Every campaign does it.”
Today’s letter from the coalition of Latino groups (pdf) takes issue with that response.
“‘These minority folks’ write to you today shocked, disturbed and outraged. Please allow this letter to serve as notice that we are NOT random people to be moved around for aesthetic reasons. We are NOT political pawns to be used when convenient nor do we accept being manipulated and repositioned when it serves one’s political motives. The ‘photoshopping in’ of minorities is not acceptable and falls far short of the integrity we expect of candidates running for the US Senate.”
The Romanoff Campaign today announced that they would be keeping the banner and responded in a statement yesterday that called Greene’s reporting a “despicable charge”
A columnist accused our campaign of manipulating a photo in order to diversify the crowd at our kick-off rally last fall… A designer collected photos taken at the rally and pasted them together in a collage at the top of our website. Every individual pictured was at the event – a fact the columnist neglected to note. Neither the columnist nor the newspaper pointed out that our opponent had done precisely the same thing in his own brochure.
The Romanoff campaign also released endorsement from Unidos Con Romanoff a group of more than 150 Latino leaders in the state. Leaders include Former State Rep. Polly Bacca, Rep. Ed Casso and State Democratic Party Vice Chair Margaret Atencio.
Romanoff’s campaign said that the attacks were a diversion from the issues that really matter, highlighting the need for jobs in Colorado and America.
The Latino coalition behind the letter Friday called for the Romanoff campaign to remove the banner from its website, acknowledge the problem and apologize for comments referring to “those minority folks…simply moving around random people for aesthetic reasons.”
The letter was signed by: Theresa M. Trujillo, Joseph A. Salazar, Nita Gonzales, Bob Montoya, Angela Giron, Marcos Garibay, Michelle Garcia, Deb Montoya, Florence Trujillo, Tammy Torres, Saul E. Trujillo, Steve Nawrocki, Daniel Garcia, Charity Trujillo Mannie Rodriguez, Geraldine Gonzales, Luis Espinoza-Organista, Theresa Solano, Tatsue Maekawa, Josette Jaramillo, Dusti Gurule, Julie Gonzales, Ricardo Martinez, Adrienne Benavidez,Veronica Barela.
Many of the those on the list appear on a letter of significant leaders endorsing Michael Bennet, including Dusti Gurule, Theresa Trujillo, and Joseph Salazar.