Update, 1:58 p.m.: We've now received a statement from Joyce Foster and interviewed Kathleen Chippi, who was identified as the senator on KHOW -- and since our 12:05 p.m. update, Chippi has tracked down figures to back up her assertions about missing children. Find the new material below the original item.
According to Boyles, it featured Senator Joyce Foster talking to Senator Chris Romer at a medical marijuana hearing. Among the claims made by the speaker: Approximately 11,000 children go missing in Colorado per year -- an average of about thirty a day. As such, "auditors with guns" should go after child molesters instead of MMJ dispensaries.
Those are bizarre assertions -- but Boyles now confirms that the person making them wasn't Joyce Foster.
Instead, Boyles says, the person talking was Kathleen Chippi, who reportedly spoke before the senate committee on local government between 8:40 p.m. and 8:51 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27.
How did this matter come to light? It began with a call to Westword by David Archer, a policy analyst for the Senate Democrats. On late Friday afternoon, he told me that he was filling in for members of the press office, who were off duty. His concern: He didn't believe the person heard on the audio clip was Foster.
Archer wouldn't put me in touch with Foster directly -- no surprise, given that Governor Bill Ritter had just vetoed a sex offender bill because of a last minute amendment to House Bill 10-364 allowing sex offenders to choose among three treatment programs -- a legislative maneuver inspired by the story of her own brother-in-law, convicted sex offender Julian Newman. (Boyles' web page remains jammed with damning material about Newman's past transgressions.) However, he offered to contact Foster personally to inquire about the clip and pass along what she said.
In the meantime, we unpublished the aforementioned post -- and a short time later, during a subsequent conversation, Archer said he'd chatted with Foster, and she didn't remember saying anything like the statements captured on the clip.
Cut to this morning, when Boyles went on the air to say that the comments had been made by Chippi, not Foster. During an off-air interview, he said the clip has come to him via "Airbus," a longtime source who makes videos for the station. Boyles considers him to be extremely reliable: "He's been great," he says. "And I don't think he did it to be misleading. He thought it was her, and so did I. It sounds just like her."
At this writing, DenverRadio.net has a thread on the misidentified snippet, and the Foster brouhaha in general. It asserts that multiple individuals, including a legislative staffer, called KHOW as early as Thursday to say the person in the clip wasn't Foster, but Boyles continued to play it anyhow.
That's not how he puts it today. He maintains that as soon as he found out the truth, he went out of his way to "make it right." However, he adds, "I don't think this changes anything" about his criticism of Foster's amendment or her tardy admission for what inspired it.
Update, 12:05 p.m.: Rather than consenting to an interview on the misidentified recording and the amendment to the sex offender bill, Joyce Foster forwarded a statement via a representative of the Senate Majority office. It reads:
All week Peter Boyles falsely attributed an audio clip to me. He can have his own opinions, but he can't have his own facts. I'm glad that after a week of misinformation and misrepresentation Peter Boyles has decided to set the record straight. I hope he will be more responsible in the future.
The office also provided a complete audio clip in which Kathleen Chippi is identified. Listen to it by clicking here.
We also heard from Kathleen Chippi, who didn't know anything about the misidentification issue until today. However, she confirms that she did testify before the senate committee: "That was definitely me," she says. She attributes the figures she cited in the clip -- 11,000 Colorado children missing per year, an average of thirty per day -- to a Channel 7 story she saw following the disappearance of twelve-year-old Greeley resident Kayleah Wilson, who was found dead more than a month after she was last seen, on March 28.
A search of Channel 7's website, as well as a generic Google search and a Nexis search, failed to turn up a report of the sort Chippi describes featuring these figures. However, a website called Missingkids.com features 2002 Justice Department statistics that read as follows:
• 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
• 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
• 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
• 115 children were the victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)
A quick search of the site showed listings for one missing boy and seven missing girls from Colorado over a one-year period.
About Foster, Chippi says, "I'm glad somebody came across my clip, because she was in on letting child molesters get off easier, and that outrages me. If law enforcement spent as much time protecting children as they did going after the medical marijuana program, we wouldn't have the problems we do.
"Law enforcement testified for two hours" at the hearings, she continues, "and they kept saying, 'We need to protect the children, we need to protect the children. But there's never been a missing child found in a dispensary, a grow or at a patient's house. This protect-the-children mantra of theirs is making me nauseous... And I'd like an explanation for why dispensary owners, caregivers and medical marijuana patients would be treated with more regulation and more monitoring than child molesters, who are actual criminals."
Here's a video of Chippi sharing her views with Senator Romer:
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Update, 1:58 p.m.: The number of missing children in Colorado may have seemed absurdly high, but Kathleen Chippi has found a release from Governor Bill Ritter's office demonstrating that they're actually low. The information below, part of a June 2009 release, estimates the total per annum at nearly 14,000, or 38 per day.
It's important to note that the vast majority of these cases pertain to custody disputes and the like; stranger abductions make up a much smaller percentage of the total. Here's the aforementioned release:
GOV. RITTER DECLARES JUNE 22-2828 COLORADO MISSING CHILDREN'S WEEK
Gov. Ritter today met with several families and law enforcement agencies to sign a proclamation declaring June 22-28, 2009 as Colorado Missing Children's Week. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness about missing children here in Colorado.
"I cannot imagine a pain much worse than the pain a family bears when a child goes missing," Gov. Ritter said. "We must continue to ban together and put forth our best efforts to protect our children."
Last year in Colorado, there were 13,933 reports of missing children under the age of 18. On any single day, the number of children reported missing averages 38. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations believes that some 95% are runaways.
Colorado Children's Week is being presented by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Department of Public Safety, the Missing Children's Task Force, and the Civil Air Patrol.
The Governor's proclamation reads as follows:
COLORADO MISSING CHILDREN'S WEEK June 22 -- 28, 2009
WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of children are reported missing in the United States each year; and
WHEREAS, there were 13,933 reports of missing children in Colorado last year; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative to quickly file a missing child report to provide law enforcement officers with the best chance to recover a missing child; and
WHEREAS, Colorado's AMBER Alert system provides a statewide network to assist in the recovery of missing or abducted children; and
WHEREAS, for more than a decade, the Colorado Missing Children Unit and numerous other organizations have joined the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to raise awareness of this issue through the observation of National Missing Children's Week;
Therefore, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim June 22-28 28, 2009
MISSING CHILDREN'S WEEK
in the State of Colorado.
GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this twenty-fifth day of June, 2009