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Aug 15, 2013 5:58 PM by Andy Koen

News 5 Truth Check: Morse ad trumpets police career, ignores gun laws

COLORADO SPRINGS - The 30 second advertisement paid for by the political issues campaign A Whole Lot of People for John Morse portrays the embattled State Senator as a champion for public safety.

The ad begins with soft music and video of three children blowing bubbles outside on a sunny day. Watching this scene, you also hear Morse's voice say, "Children aren't always interested in their own safety."

It's immediately clear this commercial wants to appeal to your emotions. The children are meant to create a positive an image about public safety.

It's also intentional that hear John Morse without seeing him camera, at least not yet. It creates visual separation between the candidate and politics of a recall election.

"Keeping people safe and interacting with parents to help them keep their children safe," Morse continues as the children keep playing.

Then you see him on camera saying, "It's my job to make sure that happens."

Here the ad begins to position Senator Morse as a champion for public safety. On screen is a picture of Morse in a police officer's uniform as a narrator says, "John Morse, Chief of Police. State Senator. A life spent fighting crime."

It's true that Morse worked for 12 years as police officer, and eventually the Chief of Police in Fountain. But there's more to his career.

Morse was a paramedic during his college days and later became an accountant. He joined the Colorado Springs Police Department in 1991 and served for 9 years retiring as a Sergeant.

He then joined the Fountain Police Department in May of 2011 as a Lieutenant. He was temporarily assigned as the Acting Chief in October of 2002, and then promoted to Chief of Police in February of 2003.

Morse left Fountain PD in November of 2004 to be the Executive Director of Silver Key Senior Services, and the resigned in September of 2006 to run for State Senate.

To say he's spent his life fighting crime is subjective.

The narrator continues with this sentence. "Morse passed tough laws to crack down on sexual predators and keep our kids safe, but now extreme groups from Denver want a costly recall just because they disagree with a vote."

There's a lot going on here. On screen you see Senator Morse sitting on a bench talking with a man and a woman, presumably the parents of the children appearing at the start of the ad.

As the narrator reads about Morse passing "tough laws to crack down on sexual predators," a graphic echoes the words and references SB 09-241, commonly referred to as "Katie's Law." The legislation requires felony convicts submit a biological DNA sample to law enforcement.

In the same sentence, the ad switches to an image of a check book over which an on screen graphic tallies up $336,000 next to words that read, "extreme groups want a costly recall."

The juxtaposition seems to suggest the recall groups disagree with Morse's vote on Katie's law. There's no mention of the gun control laws House Bills 1224, 1228 and 1229.

In fact, the ad makes no attempt to defend the virtues of any of the three laws.

The claim "extreme groups want a costly recall" is mostly true. The Morse recall campaign El Paso Freedom Defense Committee was launched locally with guidance and financial backing from the pro-gun group "Basic Freedom Defense Fund." However, BFDF is actually based in Durango and the group organized itself in March in opposition to the new gun control laws.

The on screen image of $336,000 as the cost of the recall is misleading. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams estimates the current cost of the recall special election to be $240,000, $94,000 less than what the ad claim.

The Morse camp says they combined the cost of their recall ($150,000) and the cost of the Angela Giron recall ($186,000) to get the $336,000 number. They were also using estimates that pre-date the August 12 ruling by a Denver judge to extend the deadline for successor candidates. Both El Paso County Clerk Williams and Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz both say the extended deadline will increase costs.

The narrator concludes with the subjective statement, "That's not what recalls are for." Then Morse ends the ad on camera saying "My job is to serve and protect and nothing will ever change that."

The statement is meant to reaffirm his background as a cop and to drive home his image as a defender of public safety.


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