Broomfield City Council Set To Meet For First Time Since CORA Reveals Ties To Activist Who Threatened O&G Workers
The Broomfield City Council is set to hold its first public meeting since emails obtained through an open records request revealed communications between Councilman Kevin Kreeger and a local activist who called for violence towards oil and gas workers.
Andrew O’Connor’s letter to the editor appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on April 19. In the letter, the activist from Lafayette, Colo., wrote: “If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?”
As first reported in Western Wire late last month, a Colorado Open Records Act request found O’Connor kept in frequent contact with council members, other elected officials and journalists throughout the winter and spring,
Kreeger praised O’Connor for his activism in the days following the letter’s publication and during ensuing public criticism from local residents, industry representatives, other media outlets and elected officials from both parties.
Kreeger did not mention O’Connor’s rhetoric until O’Connor asked for feedback, nearly two weeks after the letter’s publication.
“But I think you also walk a fine line if what you say could sound like you advocate violence against people,” Kreeger wrote to O’Connor on May 2. “And if you blatantly call for violence, then you’d be way over a line.”
Kreeger continued to encourage O’Connor despite his admonition.
“I applaud your energy and your desire to fight for what’s right,” Kreeger wrote. “I believe you are very bright, so I don’t want to speak as if I know more than you, but since you asked what I think…I think you should tread lightly when it comes to certain statements.”
The editors at the Daily Camera edited the letter to remove the controversial passage, but left other sections that advocated for violence and sabotage of private property.
O’Connor upped the ante when he told Colorado Politics he stood by his position and went a step further.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a well site, O’Connor told Colorado Politics. “I believe fracking is murder.”
O’Connor is also the author of a statewide ballot initiative that would raise severance taxes on oil and gas production.
In an earlier email with another Broomfield City Councilmember, Elizabeth Law-Evans, O’Connor was furious that the city council did not impose an oil and gas moratorium. O’Connor called Law-Evans an “idiot” and said she should “resign immediately.”
“I speak only for myself, but I respectfully ask that you refrain from contacting me in any form until you can manage to discuss these issues in a polite, non-belligerent, and non-denigrating manner,” Law-Evans wrote to O’Connor in a March 1 email. “That’s not how we do things in Broomfield.”
Kreeger, writing via email that same day, told O’Connor, “I thought you were blunt, and shared your feelings in an unfiltered manner. If you don’t do that, I think council members can say they never realized the importance or passion, and if you do then they can say you’re rude. Damned if you do…damned if you don’t….”
In responding to Kreeger, O’Connor called Law-Evans a “moron” and compared the council member to his pet dog. “We have a blue heeler in the backyard and I swear that Einstein is smarter than Liz,” O’Connor wrote.
State Rep. Mike Foote (D-Boulder County) spoke favorably of O’Connor via email in February, and was included as a recipient, CORA documents show, along with other local elected officials.
“I quoted you about the ‘deeply flawed bill’ in my final remarks,” Foote wrote in a Feb. 23 email to O’Connor about a proposed bill that would have made local governments financially liable for any bans they pass on oil and natural gas development. “I’m happy to discuss severance tax with you sometime. … What is your phone number?”
Foote, whose district includes Louisville, Lafayette and Longmont, sponsored several bills restricting the oil and natural gas industry in 2017.
State Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) wrote that “advocating violence does not seem to fit any decent platform that I am aware of.” State Rep. Chris Hansen (D-Denver), addressing his colleagues during a speech on the House floor in April said, “This type of rhetoric clearly goes too far.”
O’Connor’s letter also drew national condemnation. “For a newspaper to publish an outright call to violence, no matter what the issue, is just plain irresponsible and crosses a very bright line,” Fox News’ media critic Howard Kurtz said in early May. “And the journalistic felony is compounded if the same paper then changes a quote in an effort to soften it.”
The emails uncovered by the open records request show that O’Connor attempted to pitch another letter to the Denver Post, but Opinion Editor Cohen Peart refused.
“Do you truly believe it would be responsible for The Denver Post to publish a letter to the editor that seeks to incite violence against an industry – and therefore against its workers, who are your neighbors and mine?” Peart asked. “I don’t.”