Commercial Attacking Three Amendments Is Misleading

Vote 08:Facts Or Fiction Checks Ad That Takes On Amendments 47, 53, 59

A group called Protect Colorado's Future has a new ad that attacks three initiatives on the November ballot.

The organization claims the proponents of these ballot measures acted in a deceptive and fraudulent way but some of the ad's claims are misleading.

"How far will the backers of Amendment 47, 53 and 59 go?" the ad opens.

The amendments will affect how unions and state contract holders can operate in Colorado.

The ad takes on these three amendments without ever explaining what the ballot measures do.

Instead, it attacks the actions of the people supporting the ballot measures.

"First, we found out their efforts have been described as fraudulent and deceptive," the ad says.

The ad then cites several newspapers, implying the publications determined the amendments to be deceptive and fraudulent.

However, the articles quoted people who support Protect Colorado's Future's claiming that the amendment's efforts were fraudulent and deceptive.

The organization then cites those same articles, which quote Protect Colorado's Future's claim, to back up the claims in the ad. It's a circular argument.

Jess Knox, head of Protect Colorado's Future, said the newspaper citations are designed to provide readers with additional information and the fraudulent and deceptive claims are backed up by a complaint Protect Colorado's Future filed on problems with signature gathering for one amendment. They said they also filed letters with the secretary of state and are working on complaints against the other two.

But it's fiction to imply the newspapers found any deception.

"But now we find out that their campaigns hired criminals to get their measures on the ballot," the ad says.

The ad says signature gathers hired to put the amendments on the ballot had criminal records. The proponents of these measures said they hired companies to gather the signatures who hired the signature gathers with criminal records.

It is not illegal to have criminals gather signatures for initiatives and the ad doesn't mention Protect Colorado's Future's complaint, which alleges real violations that could disqualify signatures if a judge rules in their favor. That complaint is ongoing.

While having criminals gather signatures may be a public safety issue, it has nothing to do with the amendments or the legality of the signatures.

Protect Colorado's Future is mostly funded by union groups and the amendments would interfere with union fundraising. Knox said that while unions currently represent the majority of the money they raised, Protect Colorado's Future is a coalition of progressive groups.

In a side note, the group's ad cited the wrong year for one of the articles in the ad. The article was published in April 2008 not 2006 as the commerical says.