The PJ Tatler

There's a Scandal Brewing in Colorado, But It Involves a Democrat, So It'll Die Quickly

Complete Colorado reports that Sen. Mark Udall’s office tried to get Colorado’s health care exchange to cook the books on Obamacare-related insurance cancellations.

At the height of controversy surrounding President Obama’s promises on the federal health care overhaul, U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s office worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices. Because the 249,000 figure was produced inside the Colorado Division of Insurance, Udall’s office lobbied that agency to revise the figure, or revise their definition of what qualified as a cancellation.

From an email inside the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), Director of External Affairs Jo Donlin bluntly stated to her colleagues:

Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers. I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices.

As the discussion over cancellation figures proceeded, Udall’s office got into a “hostile” phone call with Donlin, which sounds like the senator’s office was trying to intimidate the state-level official into rigging the numbers to help out the Democrat senator and the Democrat president.

In yet another email, Udall staffer Joe Britton gives away the extent to which Udall’s office was seeking complicit messaging from the Division of Insurance.  ”We need to move on this ASAP – or we’ll be forced to challenge the 249K number ourselves.  It is wildly off or at least very misleading and reporters keep repeating it.”  Eventually, Udall’s office did take the task upon themselves, successfully garnering a telling of their story in The Denver Post with an online publishing timestamped 4:57 PM MST, November 15.  Donlin later alerted several of her colleagues in the Division of Insurance about the online story, saying, “Here’s a link to [Denver Postreporter] Mike Booth’s latest article quoting ‘Sen. Udall staff.’  The online comments are very interesting.”

Additionally, within the same batch of emails obtained by, the Division of Insurance informed Senator Udall that they (and Governor Hickenlooper’s administration) would not be able to support Udall’s ‘keep your cancelled policy’ legislation because it would undermine various actuarial and marketplace assumptions for the Colorado health insurance exchange.

I’ll stop excerpting there and urge you to read the whole thing.

Let’s take a look at how the Colorado media are reporting the scandal so far:

GOP blasts Udall for “bullying” Dept. of Insurance over Obamacare cancellations

The headline emphasizes not what the Democrat did, but what the Republicans are saying about what the Democrat did. It makes the scandal political rather than factual and puts the Republicans, not the Democrat, at the center of it. This is how the media routinely assist Democrats in trouble.