August 6th, 2010
03:07 PM ET
12 years ago

Sen. Bennet pushes back against critical report

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Sen. Michael Bennet is pushing back against a critical report published Friday in the New York Times."](CNN) - A front page article in Friday's New York Times could spell trouble for Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, four days before he faces the test of voters in a competitive primary. But the senator and his campaign are pushing back hard against the article, which they consider one-sided and not accurate.

The story, headlined "Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt," reports that Bennet, who served as the superintendent of Denver's schools before being named to the Senate, persuaded school board members to strike a deal with Wall Street bankers two years ago to try and plug a $400 million hole in the school system's pension plan. Instead, the article alleges that deal, involving taking out high risk loans to cover mounting debt, "went awry" during the Wall Street collapse and eventually cost the school system millions of dollars.

"I know the New York Times is always looking to break a big story, but in this case, they just got it wrong. This story has been covered by local reporters who have provided more balanced, fair, and accurate coverage. The New York Times got caught up in a heated political primary where my opponent and his supporters have repeatedly tried to score points at the expense of kids and have once again disregarded the facts," says Bennet in a statement released by his campaign.

The senator adds that a report released last week by independent auditors indicates that Denver's schools are in "better financial shape than the rest of the state's pension system. Put simply, we left the district's pension in better shape than any other district in Colorado."

In response to the article, the Bennet campaign has added a section to their website dedicated to the Times article. In it, the campaign says "The New York Times simply got its facts wrong."

The Denver public school system is also pushing back against the story.

"The recent New York Times story contains numerous factual errors related to this transaction and is highly misleading in many respects," says DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg.

In an e-mail to CNN, the New York Times said it stands by its reporting.

"The timing of the story had nothing to do with the primary race in Colorado. We make news judgments on their journalistic merit, not on the impact they might or might not have on an election. The story highlights the creative financing many municipalities and public entities have used that is now adding to their financial burden," New York Times spokesperson Diane McNulty said.

After the New York Times story was posted on-line Thursday evening, The National Republican Senatorial Committee released two emails touting the article and criticizing Bennet.

Bennett is being challenged in Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary by former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The most recent state polls suggest the race is very competitive. In campaign commercials, Romanoff has been criticizing Bennet for his Wall Street connections.

Bennet was plucked out of political obscurity early last year when Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter named him to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, who stepped down to serve as Interior Secretary in the Obama Administration. As the sitting senator, Bennet has the backing of the national party and the White House. Romanoff has been endorsed by former President Bill Clinton.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face off in what's expected to be a competitive general election contest against either former Republican Lt. Gov. Jane Norton or Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. As with the Democratic contest, the GOP primary has also turned increasingly bitter this summer.

Filed under: 2010 • Michael Bennet • New York Times
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Michele - Westminster, CO

    The NYT is always wrong.....bad journalism! The folks of CO know that NewYork types are bad liars and are just trying to stick their nose were it does not belong. Maybe they should take a look at what Bennett did for Denver Public Schools....oh wait that would be positive!
    I voted for Bennett and proud of it....ROCK ON!

    August 6, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Pkm

    Another gop crook you nasty sobs

    August 6, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. jim

    I think someone is trying to do a hatchet job on the Republican candidate for Senator from Colorado.Since the dems own this newspaper you can throw all acts of fairnesss out the door.Kinda reminds me of some of the reporting that CNN does.

    August 6, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. April in Denver

    Good thing this is a mail-in voting state, and Senator Bennet supporters have been pushing hard to get folks to vote early (plus today is the deadline to mail your ballots). It's down to who has the best get-out-the-vote operation.

    August 6, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Need new leadership

    Hmmmmm, is there another side to this story?

    Aw, let's just clear out the democrats that got us into the current financial situation.

    August 6, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Keith in Austin

    and now Bennet

    Pelosi's swamp is far from drained and it's now a cesspool full of Democrat crooks!

    August 6, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Brandon

    Where there is smoke, there is fire.

    August 6, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Rickster

    As soon as I saw that the story did not identify in the first sentence what party Bennet belonged to, I knew he was a democrat. Just for amusement I continued to read the story and, lo and behold, the reader has to go to page 2 before the reporter confirms that, indeed, he is just another corrupt democrat.

    August 6, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Fed Up

    Michael is already running behind. This won't make a difference at all. We voters in Colorado are fed up with the jokers in DC.He voted for health care and the bailouts. He seems to be one of Obama's cronies. Buh-bye. Vote 'em in. Vote 'em out.

    August 6, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. stevegee

    Another Democrat, another dumb, arrogant deal. Wake up people! In November, vote American, vote Republican.

    August 6, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Joey Tx

    As far as the Republicans are concerned, facts don't matter. That's how they manufactured facts to get us into a war. The talking heads here don't care about the facts, they simply want it their way or it's no way. Same arguments for the constitution. They want a Judge who will adhere to the strict interpretation of the constitution, yet when they don't like the outcome, they want to repeal long standing ammendments in the constitution. looooony.

    August 6, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. George

    Very subtle non use of his party affiliation!

    August 6, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. oy vey az

    The American political system seem to have evolved so that the biggest loudest big mouth in the crowd wins.

    Just stick your fingers in your ears and sing loudly ... La La La ... La La ... La La La

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. john in Florida

    JP Morgan lied and sold some local official a load of horse manure and called it candy?

    I am shocked, simply shocked. Next thing you'll be telling me is that Goldman Sachs ripped off a bunch of Greeks for Billions, and that Chase continues to rip off millions and millions of Americans.

    hopefully the Department of Goldman Sachs will look into this, and I am sure some sternly worded letters will be written. But for schoolkids in Denver, screw em, how much did they ever contribute to a Senator's campaign?

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. D. Bunker

    Nice to see the lying teatards out in full force. Regardless of what Bennet may or may not have done, it most certainly was NOT the Dems that caused our economic meltdown. It was the GOBPbaggers failed cult of deregulation and tax cuts for the rich that caused our current crisis.

    August 6, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Duck Fallas

    NYT- liberal rag full of lies and distortions; unless they tell y'all what ya want to hear, eh?

    August 6, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |