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Off Limits

The thigh's the limit: Toe-sucking Dick Morris, the just-deposed Bill Clinton campaign strategist whose extracurricular efforts with a prostitute are splashed across the Star this week, once displayed his fancy footwork here in Denver.

Back in 1983, when six candidates were challenging longtime mayor Bill McNichols (including then-state bureaucrat Wellington Webb and water-board head Monte Pascoe), Morris was hired by Denver District Attorney Dale Tooley, a two-time mayoral also-ran. Morris, who then worked primarily as a pollster, was charged with surveying Denver voters to determine just what issues might make Tooley's third time a charm. One of the questions Morris came up with was an only slightly more polite version of this: Would you vote for a Mexican?

Among the longer shots in that race was state legislator Federico Pena, who started out slow but quickly picked up speed and wound up in the runoff with Tooley (a late spring snowstorm put a damper on McNichols's chances). But Morris wasn't around to see his man lose to Pena: When word of the race-card-playing poll leaked out, Tooley disavowed responsibility --and Morris hotfooted it out of the state.

(Another Star star, Gennifer Flowers, waited until most of the publicity over her alleged affair with Clinton died down before she showed up in Denver last year. But after a brief attempt at radio gab--gabbing being an apparent specialty--she, too, has moved out...and on.)

Party on: Forget the 1983 mayoral race--the 1986 Colorado Senate race between then-representatives Tim Wirth and Ken Kramer was one of the ugliest on record--and its stench lingers on. And although Democrat Wirth won the seat, a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court could leave the Republicans the ultimate victors. Although the Federal Election Commission had claimed that the Colorado Republican Party violated campaign rules when it devoted much of its war chest to anti-Wirth advertising during that election season, on June 26 the Supreme Court determined that political party committees are free to make independent expenditures.

And how. Even as the Dems convened in Chicago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee began pouring millions into an advertising campaign. "The NRSC will now begin exercising its constitutional right to make independent expenditures in support of our Senate candidates or in opposition to their opponents," says NRSC general counsel Craig Engle. And the NRSC has the money to do it--$14.1 million cash on hand, compared with the Democrats' $6.5 million, according to recent FEC reports. Given the cash-generation gap, the Republicans predict the Dems will write off certain states, including Texas. And what of the Tom Strickland/Wayne Allard matchup in Colorado, the state whose court challenge made this war chest possible? The NRSC's Pat McCarthy says his group sent letters to TV stations in all the states with Senate races this fall, informing them that the Supreme Court decision paves the way for more advertising. Whether any of that will result in anti-Strickland buys here, McCarthy declines to say, noting coyly, "We certainly reserve the right to advertise there."

Give 'til it hurts: On Sunday, the Denver Post's business section noted that "On Labor Day, workers have reason to celebrate." The Post itself, however, is not one of them. The paper no longer offers two federations of nonprofits, the Caring Connection and Community Shares, as alternatives in its employee-giving campaign, leaving United Way in a monopoly position. (Post publisher Ryan McKibben serves on United Way's local board.)

Last year the Caring Connection collected $8,000 in donations from Post employees, and Community Shares' 69 member agencies netted $9,000. But it was a new group added to Community Shares in 1996--Colorado Jobs With Justice Education Fund, the nonprofit, educational arm of union-organizing Jobs With Justice--that apparently put the Post in a less charitable mood. "Management has told us that JWJ was trying to put them out of business and was not an acceptable organization to be in your workplace campaign," notes Community Shares executive director Greg Truog in a letter to Post donor-employees. "Management told us that we could be in the campaign if we didn't include JWJ as a giving choice. This was unacceptable to us."

But the Post isn't entirely averse to good works. It subsidized a staff photographer's sudden trip to the Colorado State Fair last week to capture that all-important moment when a group of bidnessmen, including Larry Mizel and Dean Singleton (who happens to own the paper), chipped in to buy a champion steer.

 
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