May 05, 2009

Union Goons' Alleged Intimidation At Event Attended By Sen. Michael Bennet Caught On Tape

"You gotta delete that."

Michael Ramirez

From, an update on the event attended by Sen. Michael Bennet where a GOP operative alleged intimidation by union members who forced him to delete the contents of a video shot at the event as a condition for leaving: is first to obtain and publish the full 911 calls made by GOP operative Matt Milner at a union event featuring Senator Michael Bennet.

On April 25th, Milner went to a meeting at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Local 68 union hall on North Logan Street. Milner admits he was being paid by the Colorado Republican Party to video tape remarks by Democrat U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. However, Milner claims he was prevented from leaving the union hall of his own accord for a period of time after some union officials became interested in how much information Milner had recorded. Milner called 911 to report that he felt as though he was being intimidated.

The story was originally reported by Jessica Fender of the Denver Post.
. . .
"You gotta delete that." Milner responds, "I'm taking my camera with me," to which the unidentified voice apparently responds, "Well, just delete what you...taped."
The event appears to have been open to the public, and by all accounts, Milner had taped the event without incident until confronted as he tried to exit the venue.

From Fender's Post report:
State GOP aide Matt Milner dialed 911 because he said union organizers blocked his exit and demanded he erase a video recording of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on Saturday afternoon following a townhall meeting sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

Mike Cerbo, executive director of Colorado AFL-CIO, said Milner came looking for trouble, but he wasn't forced to erase the tape or barred from leaving. It's now a matter for the Adams County Sheriff's Office, where authorities Sunday confirmed that they received a complaint from Milner. Police also confirmed his Saturday emergency call.

"I feared for my safety. Period," the 25-year-old Milner said Sunday.

Neither Bennet nor his staff was present at the altercation, said both Milner and a representative for the senator.

Milner has been a familiar face at about a dozen official Bennet events. The state Republican Party confirmed that it pays him to shadow and videotape the freshman senator in a practice known as "tracking."

There was no reason to think Saturday's gathering at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Local 68 union hall — billed as an "everyone's welcome" affair on the invitation — would vary from the typically uneventful routine. And for several hours it didn't, Milner said.

But Milner, with his tripod and video camera, garnered the attention of event organizers just as Bennet bid his adieu to hundreds of audience members, some of whom had grown passionate over politically tricky labor issues, such as the Employee Free Choice Act. also has audio of Milner's interview with local radio hosts, relating his impression of events, some of which appears to be clearly corroborated by the 9-11 audio.

This story should be considered "in development" as the investigation is still "active." Colorado law requires only one party give consent (no illegal wiretapping) in order to tape conversations, and appears to give new organizations the ability to record at "public," "newsworthy" events:
However, nothing in these statutes "shall be interpreted to prevent a news agency, or an employee thereof, from using the accepted tools and equipment of that news medium in the course of reporting or investigating a public and newsworthy event." Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-305.
Should Milner's recording be in the clear (the event was touted as open--"everyone's welcome"), anyone demanding that he erase video as a condition of release can be considered "false imprisonment."

Sen. Bennet faced a tough crowd at the event. Are these thuggish tactics--employed by a Democrat constituency, big labor--indicative of what we as Coloradans should expect to influence a vote on EFCW, and a window into things to come with a Democrat win in 2010?

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