Caldara claimed domestic partnership measure lost “handily,” even though margin was nearly the same as a different measure he said “barely” passed

During the March 6 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, Jon Caldara claimed that the “massive tax increase” Referendum C “barely” passed in 2005 and that the " 'gay' measure[]" Referendum I “failed very handily” in 2006. In fact, the difference in the margins of victory and defeat for the two measures was only 0.58 percentage points.

On the March 6 broadcast of his show, Newsradio 850 KOA host and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara asserted that Referendum C, a 2005 state ballot measure that allowed the state to retain additional tax revenues beyond those allowed under constitutional limitations, “barely” succeeded. Later in the broadcast, Caldara claimed that Referendum I, a 2006 measure that would have amended state statutes to recognize domestic partnerships, “failed very handily.” In fact, the margins of victory and defeat for the two measures were 4.12 percentage points and 4.70 percentage points, respectively, a difference of just over one-half a percentage point, or 0.58.

Discussing a March 6 Rocky Mountain News article about a rally in favor of increased state spending on higher education, Caldara, referring to Referendum C, claimed in the first hour of his show that voters were told in 2005 that “in order to save higher ed we had to pass this massive tax increase ... which we barely did.” As noted on the Colorado Secretary of State's website, Referendum C passed with 52.06 percent of voters approving of the measure. Caldara and the Independence Institute were leading opponents of Referendum C during the 2005 campaign.

Later, in the final hour of his show, Caldara claimed that Referendum I, “which was put forward by some gay activists, namely Tim Gill ... failed very handily at the polls.” However, as again noted on the Secretary of State's website, Colorado voters defeated the measure with 52.35 percent voting against the initiative.

(Colorado Media Matters' financial backers include the Gill Foundation.)




Margin of Victory/Defeat

(in percentage points)

“barely passed”

Referendum C



4.12 (won)

“failed very handily”

Referendum I



4.70 (lost)

0.58 difference

From the March 6 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:

CALDARA: Here's the way tax increases happen. They don't happen out of the blue, they happen thanks to a lot of terrific PR, thanks to the media. Case in point: today's -- both papers -- had this wonderful coverage of -- of a rally for more higher education funding. Here's the headline: “Higher-ed 'lobbyist,' end quotes, has pull in high places.' ” Why? The 20-year-old who was pushing the rally happens to be the son of Colorado's new governor. “August Ritter and his dad called for increased state aid to higher education yesterday. August, 20, a Colorado State University junior, was among several hundred students” -- i.e., special interests who get a benefit from other people -- “who descended on the Capitol to ask lawmakers for more funding for colleges and universities. August's Dad, Governor Bill Ritter, told the rally on the Capitol steps he would not have attended CSU 30 years ago without state aid.” Let's recall, it was only a year ago -- that's right, a year and a couple months ago -- that we were told in order to save higher ed we had to pass this massive tax increase called Referendum C, which we barely did. And not only did we pass that tax increase, we now find that that tax increase is growing by two-thirds -- that's right, two-thirds -- it is now 66 percent larger than expected after only one year, and still there's not enough money for higher education.


CALDARA: Here's what's so juicy about Referendum I. Last year we had two “gay” measures on the ballot -- one was to ban gay marriage, which passed. It made it a constitutional amendment -- it really didn't change anything, because it's already the law of the land; here in Colorado you're not allowed to be married and be gay -- this just codifies it out of statute and puts it into state constitution -- and then Referendum I, which was put forward by some gay activists, namely Tim Gill, was to bring forward domestic partnerships. It failed very handily at the polls. When something fails at the polls, you find that legislators are very scared of it. Legislators don't want to touch it. Well, that's what happened here.