This Friday's New York Times investigation: "Payback Time: Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt" casts a laser focus on Michael Bennet's investment into a 'risky' derivative swap by as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Pasts attempts by the Bennet campaign to deflect questions about this investigation are now laid bare and there are guilty parties involved. Now, Colorado Democratic Representative Mark Ferrandino, Chair of the State Budget committee is calling for a bi-partisan audit by both the Colorado State House and Senate of this investment that has already cost Denver Public Schools 25 million dollars and counting. Listen here on local Progressive Talk show host Mario Solis-Marich's Friday show at about 1/3rd through the podcast. http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/18227/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KKZN-AM/mario%208-6-10%204pm.mp3 Representative Ferrandino is exactly the person to call for this investigation. In addition to his position on the Joint Budget Committee, he has served as a budget analyst for the Clinton and Bush Administrations - specifically working on the interest rate for the National Debt. Rep. Ferrandino:
We are going to ask members of both parties and both chambers to do an audit of the investment because this has bigger implications than just DPS (Denver Public Schools), because of the recent merger of DPS and PERA (Colorado's Public Employees Retirement Association, because if (the investment) was done wrong, this could have an impact not just on Denver, not just the kids in Denver, but the State as a whole.One possible solution Rep. Ferrandino suggests is that Superintendent Boasberg should negotiate with JP Morgan to forgive the 81 million penalty fee for withdrawing from the investment - although that seems somewhat unlikely. And the story goes deeper than just this report. Aaron Harber, a local PBS affiliate reporter has just condemned the one sided nature of the coverage by the Denver Post, who has endorsed Senator Bennet. From PBS' Aaron Harber
There also is no question the state's most influential media entity, The Denver Post , not only has endorsed Bennet but has been hammering Romanoff unmercifully. The Post slammed Romanoff for appearing to waiver on his commitment to not take Political Action Committee money due to a statement by his campaign manager and then hit Romanoff even harder for his inappropriate use of the word "looting" when describing some of Bennet's business transactions, it had to hurt Romanoff. Simultaneously, it almost totally ignored Bennet's totally unfounded claims and television advertising attacks on Romanoff for allegedly supporting the privatization of Social Security (when, in fact, he actually opposed it). If Romanoff loses, it will demonstrate, in part, the power of The Post. If he wins, it will be one more success for Romanoff against a dominant establishment entity.At the time of this story, and despite the overwhelming evidence from other news sources, the Denver Post's editorial board have only written "Jury still out on risky DPS loan" In league with the Denver Post is the local blog, Colorado Pols, which had initially criticized Governor Ritter's pick of the unelected and unknown Michael Bennet and of Michael Bennet himself: http://www.coloradopols.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8821
(Bennet) demonstrated an almost total lack of charisma. And this is exactly why we thought Gov. Bill Ritter's selection of Bennet for U.S. Senate was such a disaster... And these are Democrats. Active Democrats. If they don't know who Bennet is, and if he doesn't have the natural charisma to carry a small room, then how is he going to win a statewide election in 2010?But after initially praising Andrew Romanoff's entry into the race for one month - Colorado Pols turned on Andrew Romanoff and have negatively attacked the Romanoff campaign - even the board members calling for an investigation. (draw your own conclusions about why an objective site suddenly became partisan for Bennet) I wrote about this in "Colorado Pols caught spinning for Bennet"
Andrew Romanoff should win Tuesday and then will win the General with ease. If however, Michael Bennet wins Tuesday, he better win in November as well. Because if he doesn't win in November, then this site will be squarely to blame for helping at every turn to defeat a stronger candidate in Andrew Romanoff.Colorado Pols generally supports democrats, so I am surprised by their railroading of Andrew Romanoff. But the bigger question remains - Is this a coordinated cover up or were they hoodwinked by Michael Bennet? Back to the story: Although the problems with the risky loan was relayed numerous times by 3 of the 7 school board members, those members were attacked by Senator Bennet's campaign, the Denver Post,by Colorado Pols, by the DPS school board President Theresa Pena, who is also Michael Bennet's campaign treasurer, and by the current Superintendent Thomas Boasberg - who is also the lifelong friend and political ally of Michael Bennet. These conflicts of interest do not end there:
JP Morgan Chase, the bank behind the DPS deal, has contributed to the Bennet campaign. According to information made available through the money-tracking Sunlight Foundation, Chase has donated $3,000 to the Bennet campaign. An innovative Sunlight Foundation tool called "Poligraft," for example, also turns up the fact that Level 3 Communications has aggregated $19,550 to the Bennet campaign, which means contributions to the campaign have come from the organization's employees, their family members, and the Level 3 political action committee. Thomas Boasberg, now head of DPS and Chief Operating Officer at the time of the controversial Chase deal, was a mergers and acquisitions executive at Level 3. According to the New York Times, it was Boasberg and Bennet who spearheaded the DPS-Chase deal, leveraging their financial experience to sway the DPS board.Now JP Morgan is funding Bennet's campaign, and Boasberg has been blocking any investigation. This is what he said about the board member's claim in March of 2010.
"This attack is a regrettable action by a few disgruntled board members who are seeking to create a political controversy where no controversy exists," said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.I'd imagine you'd say that, not only to protect Senator Bennet, but yourself as well. And with the School Board President Theresa Pena also serving as Bennet's campaign treasurer, dissenters on the School Board have been silenced by procedure. But the campaign can no longer deny these people's claims now that it is being covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and Markos of Daily Kos.
This "exotic deal", akin to a variable interest rate mortgage, has now cost the Denver school system $25 million more than originally planned, and getting out of the deal would cost the district another $81 million in termination fees. But no one could've predicted! (That's really Bennet's defense.)The Denver Post routinely is conservative - even endorsing McCain over Obama. It is quite likely that the Denver Post will sit on this story until Tuesday's primary is over, and should Michael Bennet win, suddenly become interested in covering the derivative swap. (the Denver Post has an editorial that is now attacking Bennet) With an ongoing bi-partisan audit of this swap looming ahead, the Republican General Election candidate will have a hammer to wield against Michael Bennet. (the leading candidate being Ken Buck - who does not believe in abortion even in the case of incest and rape) Ken Buck as Senator will be a disaster for Colorado. Even worse, Colorado is one of the swing states that could decide the balance of power in the Senate. And the Republicans will most certainly take advantage of this issue and defeat Michael Bennet in the General. For the sake of holding on this seat for Democratic party, Democrats must call on Michael Bennet to step down from the primary. Supporting Andrew Romanoff is not just about liking or disliking a candidate, it's about the Democrats best chance to retain this Senate Seat.