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TALKING TRASH

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In fact, Palm Springs is where the couple became involved with Amendment 16. This is how it happened, according to CHILD's Denise Mund: While Verna was in Palm Springs in 1992, she attended an anti-porn meeting at which Gene Malpas spoke. At the time, Malpas was a roving counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families, an anti-porn group that grew from the Reagan era's Meese Commission on Pornography. Horrified by Malpas's contention that Denver was one of the nation's premier smut capitals, Verna got in touch with Mund, who had launched an anti-porn group in Denver several years before.

It was a natural cause for someone whose only activity listed in the Social Register was Cherry Hills Community Church. Fellow attendees at the huge evangelical, non-denominational church include Bill Armstrong, John Elway, convicted financier Bo Mitchell and the Independence Institute's Tom Tancredo. Cherry Hills, like many other churches, encourages its members to get involved in community affairs. In its foyer are stacks of political literature from Focus on the Family. And inside each copy of Focus's Citizen magazine is the local insert of the Rocky Mountain Family Council, a political action group founded by Barry Arrington.

The church is one of many around the country that have hosted standing-room-only crowds to see Focus on the Family's Generation at Risk, a shock-treatment, multi-media expose of popular culture. At one such event last year, a full house in the mammoth Cherry Hills sanctuary was treated to such soundbites as Kiss's Gene Simmons talking about how he "wanted to fuck until my dick fell off."

It's not known whether Bill and Verna Pauls attended that X-rated Focus show. But at this point in the war against smut, Arrington says, Pauls "is a concerned citizen who wants to help."

Since hooking up with Bill and Verna Pauls two years ago, CHILD has tried to get an anti-obscenity measure on the ballot. After legislative attempts failed in '93 and '94, this summer CHILD hired Kennedy Enterprises of Colorado Springs to gather signatures for a ballot initiative. Enough were collected, but the courts held that the proposed amendment's wording didn't convey its full effect. So CHILD quickly put out a reworded version and gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the November 8 ballot.

In the meantime, Pauls's blueblood and business connections have already paid off. CHILD offers a long list of supporters unusually heavy with Denver high society, including grande dame Florence Ruston (the former "Baby Fleurette" of Our Gang fame), Carolyn Fancher (celebrated in the press as the "queen of can-do in the volunteer world") and the Nicholas Petrys (he played golf with Ike). Also from the Social Register are the Robert E. Pucketts (he's in oil), the Ted P. Stockmars (he's in law) and the James M. Woodards (he's an in-law of Petry's). The list includes very rich men: Phil Anschutz (who's given $5,000 to CHILD) and Jack Vickers. And the tailor of very rich men: Mark Reed of Homer Reed Ltd. And it contains both cable pioneer Bill Daniels and one of the men, John Saeman, who convinced Daniels that he had a drinking problem back in 1985. Joining the crusade are neighbors of Bill and Verna Pauls on Sunset Drive, the Harry Truebloods, and their preacher, Dr. Jim Dixon of Cherry Hills Community Church, whose congregation includes several people in the Social Register.

Predictably, several members of the Coors family also are on board.
But not everybody is happy to make CHILD's list.
Last spring, state Senator Bill Owens (currently a candidate for state treasurer) introduced a bill pushing CHILD's proposal. At that time, the group's list of supporters still included Karen Ringsby, president of the Planned Parenthood board, and her husband. Arrington had talked to Ringsby the year before about using the proposal as a weapon against "kiddie porn," according to Planned Parenthood's Katie Reinisch.

The energetic Arrington is a sworn enemy of Planned Parenthood: He uses big billboards to solicit business from people "injured" by abortions. (When you call the advertised number, CHILD's Mund answers the phone.) Despite Arrington's animus toward her group, Ringsby signed on in principle--even as Planned Parenthood's staff lobbied against the measure because the organization's educational materials, such as instructions on how to put on a condom, could be labeled obscene by conservative communities. Ringsby spent a year trying to get Arrington to remove her name from the list, says Reinisch. Finally, at last spring's hearing, state Senator Joan Johnson read into the record a letter from Ringsby saying she was not a supporter of CHILD or the proposal.

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy