Colorado politics reporter’s expulsion from a Republican gathering causes uproar

Apr 8, 2024, 1:38 PM

DENVER (AP) — Politicians and news outlets in Colorado expressed outrage on Monday over the expulsion from a Republican gathering of an experienced politics reporter who was told the state party chairman believed her reporting was “very unfair.”

Journalists and elected officials, including the former chair of the Colorado Republican Party, came to the defense of Colorado Sun reporter Sandra Fish. The controversy follows the contours of attacks on the press nationally, partly brought on by former President Donald Trump with the popularization of the term “fake news.” The ejection also appears to have influenced an endorsement Monday in the Republican primary race.

The state Republican Party announced on the social media platform X that it was endorsing U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert over one of her primary opponents, Deborah Flora, in the state’s 4th Congressional District race, partly because “Deb Flora lied about participating in the CD4 Assembly process, & now she’s boot licking fake journalists who only help Democrats.”

The post was a direct reply to Flora’s post on X defending Fish, in which Flora said the expulsion was “wrong and a violation of the First Amendment.”

Party Chairman Dave Williams, who introduces himself on the state GOP website as “Dave ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Williams,” is seeking the nomination to run for the 5th District seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who is retiring from Congress.

In a text, the MAGA-aligned Williams said he had no apologies for kicking Fish out of the assembly in Pueblo on Saturday and accused her of being a “fake journalist” and The Colorado Sun of being biased. When asked, Williams did not provide examples. The Colorado Sun is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news outlet that covers Colorado.

“I invite anyone to share any example of The Colorado Sun or Sandra Fish being unfair or inaccurate. So far I have heard nothing,” said Larry Ryckman, editor of the news outlet. “The Founding Fathers weren’t any big fans of newspapers back in the day. But they understood that a healthy democracy demands free, unfettered press.”

The assembly about two hours south of Denver was partly to select representatives to the Republican National Committee and to work on a party platform for the election.

“There are 900,000 Republicans in the state of Colorado and a lot of unaffiliated voters who are interested in what happens at this assembly. And how they find out is via reporters like me being there to cover it,” Fish told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

“I am, as one person on Twitter noted, a little old lady. And I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I just don’t think it’s right to eject a reporter from a meeting like this,” said Fish, who has covered politics since 1982.

Fish said she heard rumors prior to the event that she’d be barred from attending, and she asked event organizer, Eric Grossman, who texted her Thursday that he’d get back to her.

“Thanks. I’ve been covering these assemblies for at least seven cycles and have never had issues before,” Fish texted back. Ryckman attempted to reach Williams on Thursday night to discuss, but said Williams never responded.

Before dawn on Saturday, Grossman texted Fish saying she wouldn’t be included on the press list and that “the state chairman believes current reporting to be very unfair.”

“I went anyway because, come on, this should be an open event,” said Fish, who was checked in and given press credentials that she wore around her neck along with a Colorado Sun nametag.

About an hour later, security asked her to leave. Fish showed her press credentials, then Grossman arrived and soon a sheriff’s deputy was called. Fish left with the deputy.

“We make no apologies for kicking out a fake journalist, who actually snuck into our event,” Williams said in a text. “Her publication is just an extension of the Democrat Party’s PR efforts, and the only backlash we see is from the fake news media, radical Democrats, and establishment RINOs who hate our conservative base.”

Grossman, in a text, said Fish’s actions were “a selfish political stunt.”

Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer defended the reporter, writing in a post on X: “Sandra Fish is a fair; honest and respected reporter, as a Republican I’m embarrassed by the GOP chair.”

Former Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown also chimed in on X, describing Fish as “hard-hitting but fair. … This is a dangerous take by the current (Colorado GOP). … Transparency is necessary for our nation.”

Among other stories, Fish has reported on how the Colorado Republican Party under Williams’ leadership paid for mailers that subtly attacked one of Williams’ primary opponents, and that fundraising slowed under his chairmanship.


Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

National News

Associated Press

Missouri high court clears the way for a woman’s release after 43 years in prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a Missouri woman whose murder conviction was overturned to be freed after 43 years in prison. A circuit court judge ruled last month that Sandra Hemme’s attorneys showed evidence of her “actual innocence,” and an appeals court ruled she should be […]

15 minutes ago

Associated Press

FDA OKs best-selling e-cigarette Vuse Alto, but only in tobacco flavor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials on Thursday authorized sales of the best-selling e-cigarette in the U.S., Vuse Alto, allowing manufacturer Reynolds American to keep the vaping brand on the market for years to come. The Food and Drug Administration decision only applies to several tobacco-flavored versions of the reusable product, which takes cartridges filled […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Jersey to allow power plant hotly fought by Newark residents

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In the first major decision issued under an environmental justice law designed to prevent additional sources of pollution in already overburdened communities, New Jersey will allow construction of a backup power plant at one of the country’s largest sewage treatment facilities. The facility dumped some 840 million gallons of raw sewage […]

54 minutes ago

FILE - Pens are encircled by "I Voted" stickers at an election precinct in Jackson, Miss., March 12...

Associated Press

Appeals court affirms Mississippi’s ban on voting after some felonies, including timber theft

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators, not the courts, must decide whether to change the state’s practice of stripping voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies, including nonviolent crimes such as forgery and timber theft, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. A majority of judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that […]

1 hour ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, speaks as President Joe ...

Associated Press

US agency says apps that let workers access paychecks before payday are providing loans

NEW YORK (AP) — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that apps that allow workers to access their paychecks in advance, often for a fee, are providing loans and therefore subject to the Truth in Lending Act. If enacted, the proposed rule would provide clarity to a fast-growing industry known as Earned Wage Access, […]

3 hours ago

Colorado politics reporter’s expulsion from a Republican gathering causes uproar