McInnis' Alleged Explosion on Water Issue in Colorado Springs Raises More Questions

05/26/2010 06:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis told KHOW's Craig Silverman he's knows "a little something" about Colorado water issues, which is partly why he says he got a $150,000 fellowship from the Hasan Foundation to write an "a series of in-depth series of articles" on Colorado water. McInnis' campaign hasn't commented on the articles or released them.

Yet, we've seen little digging by reporters into his views and record on water issues generally, much less the Hasan articles. So I've been filling in the journalistic gap and looking for the articles.

Barry Noreen, in a great column in today's Colorado Springs Gazette, dug into one local water fight and highlighted an alleged flip flop by then Congressman McInnis on a water issue related to the so-called Southern Delivery System.

Noreen writes that some believe McInnis' decision on the SDS issue was influenced by his future employer, Hogan and Hartson. A McInnis spokesman has said this is untrue, but there's seems to be quite a bit of anger about this issue in Colorado Springs. (See second highlighted quote below.)

Noreen wrote about "life-long Republican" and former Colorado Springs city councilman Dave Sarton, who claims McInnis didn't keep a promise to back federal funding for a project related to the Southern Delivery System:

Sarton and others have suggested that one such "concern" is that McInnis was on his way to a job as a lobbyist for Hogan and Hartson, a lobbying company (see my blog) that had been hired by Pueblo Chieftain publisher Bob Rawlings to fight the water project. Viewed from that angle, it looks like McInnis was beginning to represent his future employer when he was still supposed to be representing the people who elected him.

"That is an unfair and untrue accusation," Duffy said.

McInnis campaign refused Noreen's request to speak with the candidate, so reporters should ask him about it in person, next time McInnis passes through Colorado Springs, especially in light of today's blog post by Sean Paige, a member of the Colorado Springs City Council and a former editorial page editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette. Paige wrote, in part:

My interest in the matter stems partly from what happened back then, which still sticks in my craw, but in part from a more recent event. About 5 or 6 months ago I attended a small meeting - a briefing for McInnis on details of the Southern Delivery System - where Sarton confronted the candidate on the issue. I saw a side of McInnis (who I had heard was something of a hothead) that wasn't flattering. Sarton raised the issue respectfully and tactfully, from my perspective. McInnis nearly exploded. I thought for a second he was going to get up off his chair and get in Sarton's face (I was sitting between them). Red-faced and enraged, he yelled at Sarton, saying that he never wanted to hear anyone ever again say that Scott McInnis screwed Colorado Springs.

I have a bit of the Irish myself (though I prefer to think of it as "passion" or "intensity," rather than a temper), and I've worked around some tightly-wound politicians in my day. But I've never seen anything quite like the "intensity" I saw in McInnis - in a situation that might easily have been defused with a little diplomacy or humor. I considered rising to Sarton's defense as the tirade subsided, but I was sitting (as mentioned) within swinging distance of McInnis. A donnybrook would have put a damper on an otherwise informative meeting.

McInnis eventually screwed his head back on his shoulders but he still refused to take any real ownership of past actions. Instead of getting a coherent explanation, or an apology for a misjudgment that might be understandable if put in context, Sarton was effectively ordered to shut up, stuff it and never say anything bad about Scott McInnis again.

Maybe the reason McInnis won't release the water articles that he claims to have written during his Hasan Family Foundation fellowship has something to do with this issue. It's just idle speculation, I know, but what else can we do besides speculate, given that McInnis' campaign won't comment at all about the articles?

That's why a journalist should ask should him about them. Or the task might fall to a pseudo-journalist, like KHOW's Craig Silverman, because McInnis is not making himself available to Noreen-and is in the habit lately of rejecting interviews with The Denver Post. But Dan Caplis said Monday that McInnis always makes himself available for the Caplis and Silverman show.