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Foundation Paid McInnis $300,000 to Write and Speak, Not $150,000; 12 Water Articles Released

06/15/2010 05:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jason Salzman Former media critic at the Rocky Mountain News; Blogger, www.bigmedia.org.

Over the weekend, The Hasan Family Foundation posted a series of articles on its website called "Musings on Water."

Guess who's listed as the author? Yup, Scott McInnis.

The 12 articles, in 60 double-spaced pages, plus five speeches and several TV interviews, appear to be some, but not all, of McInnis' work produced during his two-year fellowship at the Hasan Family Foundation.

McInnis was paid $300,000, $150,000 per year, according to Hasan Family Foundation attorney Glenn Merrick.

(Due to an apparent error on the foundation's website, I previously reported that he only got $150,000 total for two years, but he got $150,000 per year, Merrick told me and The Denver Post.)

In a Dec. 2, 2005 memo accompanying the articles, McInnis writes that his work for 2005 "resulted in 12 researched articles (in a series format that requires continued research) supported by speaking engagements."

But three of the 12 articles listed as his work product for 2005 are missing. The missing titles are: "Who gets the water? Nothing much has really changed," "West of the 100th Meriden (sic)," and "Dividing the Waters."

McInnis expected to write over a dozen more articles in 2006, during the second year of his fellowship, according to his end-of-the-year memo in 2005.

"At this point I think we are well on track to have a very active 2006, including 15 to 20 more articles and several speeches," McInnis wrote in 2005.

But only three articles stamped with 2006 dates were released by the Hasan Family Foundation. So either McInnis came way short of producing the expected 15 to 20 articles in 2006, or most of his 2006 work has yet to be released.

The McInnis campaign turned over a total of 150 pages of articles to The Denver Post, and the McInnis campaign told The Post that McInnis met the obligations of his contract with the Hasan Foundation. But the newspaper has not made all of this writing available to the public, while 60-pages of articles released by the foundation are available online.

Each of the articles posted on the foundation website has "MUSINGS ON WATER" at the top, usually followed by a headline beneath it, like "A River Stretched too Far" or "A Start for the Upper Basin."

Each article concludes with "Thank you until next time."

The first article in the series begins: "WATER! It is an absolute human and economic necessity. WATER! You and I cannot live without it. Colorado's economy and people absolutely depend on water."

The articles are mostly descriptive, with some opinions and interpretations interspersed.

Oddly, the titles of the missing articles indicate that they might contain more of McInnis' opinions on water issues, but who knows, given the content of the articles that were released. McInnis wrote in his cover memo to the foundation that, per the agreement between him and the foundation, his articles were "written at a level that non-water experts could easily understand."

This seems to be true, but I'm familiar enough about Colorado water issues to know that as a "non-water expert," I'm in no position to evaluate these articles.

So I'll find a few experts to look them over, and reporters should also take a look.

As a sometime writer, I'm thinking that McInnis got one hell of a deal, getting $300,000 for these 12 articles and five key speeches and "several TV interviews." At $150,000, he got a screaming writing gig, but $300,000 goes into the stratosphere, given what was produced.

So I asked the Hasan Family Foundation attorney, Glenn Merrick, if the Foundation had other McInnis' water articles that were not posted and if McInnis was consulted.

"In response to your questions, Mr. McInnis served as a Hasan Family Foundation Fellow for two years and received $150,000 per year in that capacity," he responded via email. "The decision to publish his work product for the Foundation was made exclusively by the Foundation. Neither Mr. McInnis nor any of his staff or advisors was consulted about the decision. All of Mr. McInnis' work product in the possession of the Foundation is being published."

Merrick leaves open the possibility that more articles exist, possibly in McInnis' possession, but the Hasan Foundation does not have them. Previously, you recall, Merrick told me that McInnis would have to release the articles himself.

In addition to the articles, memo, and news release, the Foundation posted a revised description of McInnis' fellowship, as well as an updated photo.

Questions remain for journalists to pursue: Judging from the articles produced so far, does McInnis have a grip on basic Colorado water issues? Where are the three missing articles from 2005? Where are the dozen or so missing articles from 2006? Why $300,000 for this work?

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