The voice is stern, authoritative, tinged with anger. It’s a woman’s voice, one that might belong to an exceptionally tough prosecuting attorney, or to the 30-something HR hard-ass who just fired you, and took particular pleasure in telling you that no, you won’t get any severance, and no, you’re not eligible for unemployment.
“Do Colorado Springs citizens think that Richard Skorman is a liberal?” says the cold, accusatory voice, that of an actress. Hired to read the script for a 30-second attack commercial created by Jeff Crank, who heads the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, it’s her job to convince us poor schmucks that Richard Skorman is a (Choke! Gasp!) liberal.
The commercial has drawn an immediate angry response from the Skorman campaign, which claims that AFP, funded by the notorious (at least to lib’ruls!) billionaire Koch brothers, is well-known for vicious and deliberately misleading negative campaigns.
“This attack by a shady political action committee must end immediately,” Skorman says in a press release. “The Bach campaign must come clean about its role in running these negative ads. Steve Bach should speak out now to keep secret, out-of-state interests from influencing a Colorado Springs election.”
“The Skorman campaign discloses all campaign contributions and expenditures and we are completely transparent about where funding comes from for all of our advertising,” Skorman adds.
As such pieces go, this one is surprisingly mild.
It’s available on the web at skormanrecord.com., which also contains an account of Skorman’s career in advocacy and in politics. Apparently, Skorman has spent every waking hour for the last two decades raising taxes, scheming to raise taxes, or planning to funnel our hard-earned tax money to bureaucrats and politicians.
Here’s a sample.
Skorman Has Repeatedly Opened the Door to Raising Taxes:
Skorman said he’d be willing to ask for voters’ permission to raise taxes. Skorman: “I think there is a lot of ways to be more efficient and I would take a long time to try to make sure that happens first, and then if down the road, if we have to ask permission to raise taxes I would be willing to do that too…” (Abbie Burke, “Mayoral Candidates Sound Off On Funding Priorities,” Fox21, www.coloradoconnection.com, 3/23/11)
Skorman said he would not sign the “No New Tax Pledge”. Question: ”Ok. What do you say about no new taxes?” (3:03) Skorman: “Well I wouldn’t sign the no new tax pledge because I feel like it’s difficult to say I wouldn’t never support any tax. Maybe I want to support a downtown development tax that would help my business or maybe I would want to support a library tax and so I don’t want get pigeonholed and I think it is disingenuous to say that you’ll never ever support tax increases again.” (Richard Skorman, “Strong Mayoral Candidates Live on KKTV,” www.kktv.com)
And here’s a real shocker!
Skorman Supported the TOPS (Trails Open Space and Parks) Sales Tax Increases in 1997 and 2003
•Skorman directed the TOPS initiative in 1997 and 2003: “As director of the Trails Open Space and Parks (TOPS) initiative, Skorman persuaded Colorado Springs voters to pass a penny tax increase to fund the purchase of open space in 1997, and its renewal in 2003.” (Leslie Jorgensen, “Springs Mayor Candidates Eye Change,” The Colorado Statesmen, www.coloradostatesman.com, 1/21/11)
•The initial tax hike, approved in 1997, would have expired in 2009. In 2003, Skorman fought to extend the tax through 2025: “‘We’re feeling optimistic, but it’s a tough economic time,’ said City Councilman Richard Skorman, one of the main backers of the original TOPS initiative. A tax extension might be a tough sell given the current recession, he said. ‘We’re not taking this for granted.’” (“Not Taken For Granted,” Colorado Springs Independent, 3/19/03)
In keeping with the rules governing such pieces, the authors give us either partial truths, or outright falsehoods authored by others. In this case, Jorgenson’s article contained a glaring error, misstating the the TOPS tax by a factor of 10. It wasn’t a penny tax - it was a one-tenth of a cent sales tax. The piece also fails to note that the extension passed by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, or that its passage made possible the preservation of Red Rocks open space, the creation of Cheyenne Mountain State Park, and a dozen other worthy goals.
But that’s OK, and it’s not Jeff Crank’s fault that Jorgenson had her facts wrong. He quoted her accurately.
Crank was amused by the angry reaction of the Skorman campaign.
“In these kind of commercials,” he said, “candidates generally go after your facts, and Skorman hasn’t done that. We’re just saying that he’s a liberal — and on the commercial you can hear his voice saying “I don’t know why people think I’m a liberal.” Well, he is a liberal - and we’re just giving people the evidence.”
“You notice that we aren’t attacking Richard,” he said, “just his policies. That’s deliberate - I was the victim of personal attacks myself (in the 2006 Republican congressional primary) and I won’t do that. And all the stuff about the Koch brothers, and links between AFP and the Bach campaign is completely baseless. Laura Carno (who is Bach’s campaign manager) has been the volunteer, unpaid producer of my radio show, and she’s taken a leave of absence to work for Bach. She’s never gotten a penny from AFP.”
How big is the media buy?
“We originally authorized $50,000,” Crank revealed. “And just yesterday, I authorized another $50,000. That may be all, but we haven’t made that decision yet. As you know, that’s a pretty substantial buy. We’re still in the black, so we may commit more.”
And where did the money come from?
“All the money in the Colorado AFP is money that I’ve raised,” Crank said. “None of it comes from the Koch brothers. It comes from donors who are sympathetic to what we do-it’s not committed to any particular action program.”
And why the “mean girl” voice?
“We listened to a lot of voices,” he said,” and we chose that one. Mean girl? I never thought about that.”