McInnis goes down

Wed, Jul 14, 2010


Sequence of events:

1. Former congressman Scott McInnis gets a $300,000 “fellowship” from the Hasan Foundation, an outfit funded by a wealthy Colorado family who also happen to be major donors to republican candidates.
2. To “earn” the 300 grand, McInnis agrees to write a series of essays on Colorado water issues.
3. McInnis takes another job at a Denver law firm and apparently passes the buck to someone else, a western slope “water expert” who actually writes the essays. McInnis then cheerfully signs a document confirming that the essays are his own, original work.
4. The Denver Post reveals that substantial portions of the essays were lifted verbatim from material written by now-Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs 20 years ago.
5. McInnis blames it all on the guy he hired to do “research.”

Strangely, I have a dog in this fight.

Four years ago, when I first joined the Business Journal, then-editor Mike Boyd let me do a six-part series on water in the west. It was certainly the most fascinating, interesting, and challenging project that I’d ever undertaken in my years as a journalist. I thought that I knew a lot about water – I didn’t.

I compensated for my ignorance by talking to guys like the late Chips Barry at the Denver Water Board, Pat Mulroy at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Bruce McCormick at Colorado Springs Utilities. I talked to environmentalists, historians, water buffaloes, and climatologists. I found the subject so vast, so complex, and so intertwined with every aspect of life in the west that I seriously considered trying to extend the pieces into a book-until I realized that I’d have to take two years off work to do it.

So here’s McInnis, given the job that every serious journalist in America dreams of, and he won’t do it. He blows it off.

That’s because he never intended to write anything of substance, and the Hasan Foundation never imagined that he would. It was just baksheesh, a little walking around money, the modern equivalent of no-show job on the Mob-controlled Jersey waterfront of the 1950’s.

It’s pretty clear what happened. Whoever wrote these thin little essays, whether McInnis or his “researcher” thought that he could get way with lifting content from Hobbs’ 1990 material, because he didn’t think they’d come up on a Google search.

Now things are unraveling. The erstwhile paymasters, the Hasan Foundation, want their money back, pretending that they actually expected McInnis to write some serious-type material. McInnis is twisting slowly in the wind, although he apparently doesn’t realize it.

As one prominent Republican told me in disgust, “He just handed Hickenlooper the election. After so many people worked so hard for him, and got Penry out of the way, and gave him money and support-and he blindsided every one of them. You don’t recover from something like this.”

My advice: Scott, take a couple of years off, live off your money from the Hasan Foundation, and write that book about water.

You might call it “Running Downhill.”

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. H Willey Says:

    The second post to bash Republicans this week yet you don’t address the fact that an intern for Senator Bennet was fired for trying to sell the Senator’s time and the subsequent fallout from that now that scores of others are coming forward claiming they were offered to “buy” the Senator’s time.

    Perhaps we’ll remember the good ol’ days journalistic integrity the next time we’re lamenting the fall of newspapers.

  2. Jk Haddad Says:

    As a reader who admits he knows nothing about Water issues or Mr McInnis, I truly enjoyed your blog. Makes me want to pay more attention to the world around me…well, almost.

  3. JVG Says:


    While I don’t know the exact particulars except to say I read the headlines, I must say that McGinnis is an absolute fool. If he was a democrat, he might have gotten away with this. But since he is a republican, there is absolutely no way that the media will let this go.

    Does he deserve it? Yes, if he was that stupid to allow someone else to write it, compile it and claim it as his own… Absolutely.

  4. Rick Wehner Says:

    Pretty good advice other than the fact it frees up Sallie Clark to once again, ditch her constituents, and run for mayor.

    At a critical time for the entire region, can we afford to have HER as mayor? Or do we need what all recent studies and reports state is needed? Like leadership with VISION and someone the public can TRUST. Someone with a true and serious background in a REAL business or municipal administrative experience. At least an accountant or an engineer with NO past or present ties to the local crusaders who have led us to the BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY?

    Keep in mind, it was Mrs.Clark who was first out of the starting gate to suggest selling off county parklands ie: Bearcreek Park to a developer for $14M at the first sign of a budget crisis. If this is the level of crisis response she offers, perhaps we need to rethink the positions all local officials have taken lately and ask — do we want more of this or do we want to forge a strong, new Colorado Springs from leaders who are working as hard for the community as they are to move to the STATEHOUSE? Or, to the County Clerk and Recorder’s office — or maybe from council to the BoCC.

    – – -fortworthrick

  5. Brad Foster Says:

    Hickenlooper is no angel either. The media hasn’t got their hands on him….yet.