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TRUTH TEST: Bennet's response

8:55 PM, Aug 4, 2010   |    comments
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QUOTE: Andrew Romanoff is running a despicable negative campaign.

TRUTH: This is an opinion.

QUOTE: The truth: Michael Bennet saved the company from Wall Street. Rescuing the movie theater chain. Protecting the employees and creating thousands of new jobs.

TRUTH: Most of this is true, but there's one part that's not entirely accurate.

Before he went to work as chief of staff for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet worked for Phil Anschutz as managing director of the Anschutz Investment Company. (Source: Bennet for Colorado Campaign website: http://bennetforcolorado.com/about_Michael)

In the early part of last decade, a dozen top movie theater companies filed for bankruptcy, overleveraged "by building too many megaplexes... when fewer moviegoers visited older theaters, which the companies were still locked into renting," according to the Associated Press (Jan., 30, 2002) and the Sarasota Herald Tribune (Feb. 10, 2002).

Among those companies was Regal Cinemas whose debt was purchased by the Anschutz Investment Company, and who then became its owner when it emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization in 2002. He had already purchased the debt of the United Artists and Edwards Theater chains and steered them through bankruptcy. He merged the three companies under the Regal label to create the largest movie theater company in the country. (Source: Associated Press, Jan. 30, 2002 and Regal Entertainment Group Website: http://www.regmovies.com/corporate/aboutus.aspx)

Bennet was the one who negotiated the bankruptcies and worked to merge the companies. Anschutz would later take the company public as the Regal Entertainment Group (RGC).

While a Rocky Mountain News columnist said Anschutz "rescued" the movie theater chain, in looking at Regal's Chapter 11 reorganization plan with a federal judge, consolidation among staff and closing of theaters is described, meaning some people did lose their jobs. That's what traditionally happens when companies go bankrupt. Numerous Regal theaters around the country had been closed before the reorganization began, but others were closed afterwards.

Bennet can claim he protected many employees, but there were some who did lose their jobs in the company's bankruptcy.

Bennet will assert, and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission will verify, Regal now has roughly 2,000 more employees than it did at the time of the bankruptcy. (Source: SEC: http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?action=getcompany&CIK=0000905035&owner=exclude&count=40) Further, he will say his company "saved" thousands more jobs as Regal and the other theater companies would have been liquidated to appease creditors if Anschutz had not bought them.

QUOTE: And Andrew Romanoff: he's the one helping Wall Street. Romanoff supported George Bush's plan to privatize Social Security.

TRUTH: This is true.

At issue is a vote Romanoff cast in the State House on May 3, 2004 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 28. (Source: Colorado General Assembly website: http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics2004a/csl.nsf/Journals?OpenFrameSet)

The resolution calls for "Allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their income in personal retirement accounts," to among other things, "keep the Social Security system solvent." (Source: Full reading of SJR 28: http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics2004a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/F91A3370CC29581A87256E3100838B1C?Open&file=SJR028_enr.pdf)

Numerous times during his presidency, George W. Bush used the exact same wording to support his plans to reform Social Security, specifically the phrase, "personal retirement accounts." (Source: George W. Bush White House Archives: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/social-security/)

The Colorado chapter of the AARP, the state's largest membership organization, told 9NEWS today that "this [legislation] was a priority issue for us. We did strongly oppose [the legislation]. Members [of the legislature] were notified in advance that we strongly opposed this."

In a news release defending his record on issues related to seniors, Romanoff said he received a "100 percent rating from AARP," but the group on Wednesday denied that claim in an interview with 9NEWS, stating that it does not rate candidates as it could threaten its nonprofit status.

The Republicans in the legislature at the time say the resolution was clearly designed to support President Bush's plans to strengthen Social Security and everybody who voted on it, knew it.

"In reply to the contention that it had nothing to do with the Bush plan to save and strengthen Social Security, I would respond that it had everything to do with that plan, or we as a majority party in the Senate would not have offered and passed it," wrote former State Senate President John Andrews (R-Centennial) in an e-mail to 9NEWS.

"I remember [the resolution] well," said then Rep. Greg Brophy (R-Wray), who is now a state senator representing the issue. "It was a fun debate and it was all about privatizing or individualizing retirement accounts just as Bush was proposing. What we have here is another example of Romanoff's selective memory and chameleon style morph into the candidate he thinks people want from what he has been. He voted for privatizing Social Security."

Romanoff would vote in 2005 in favor of another resolution that specifically asked Congress to "oppose privatization of Social Security." (Source: Senate Joint Resolution 6: http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics2005a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont/AE4E6D28274CC48487256FB9006F2A44?Open&file=SJM006_enr.pdf)

Since then, he has been consistent publicly since then in regards to his opposition to "privatizing" Social Security.

In response to the conclusion articulated here, Romanoff spokesman Roy Teicher sent 9NEWS the following e-mail:

"Andrew was comfortable voting for the 2004 resolution because the language specifically did not include any reference to diverting Social Security funds into private accounts or reducing benefits or any changes that could be termed "privatization." That the language mirrors that of the Bush blueprint and that Republicans may have viewed this as a stepping-stone to a more privately-based system should not distract from the benign recommendations that were this resolution. It was the very modest idea of promoting additional retirement savings options for younger workers - not at the expense of Social Security - that Andrew voted for. That should be understood and accepted at face value. To attach far-reaching motive to the resolution is to engage in baseless speculation. And to say he voted for privatization is simply a lie."

QUOTE: Gambling your Social Security in the stock market.

TRUTH: This is false.

The plan President Bush proposed and consistently defended included individuals "voluntarily" opting to invest some of their payroll taxes into a "personal retirement account." It was never mandatory. (Source: George W. Bush White House Archives: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/social-security/)

QUOTE: Andrew Romanoff. Now you know the truth.

TRUTH: The graphic here stating "privatizing Social Security" is a stretch.

There is no evidence to suggest that since 2004 and the vote Romanoff took, that he in any way has supported "privatizing" Social Security.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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