Press booted as Interior chief Jewell meets Moffat County officials

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): A meeting about greater sage-grouse that had been touted as open to the press and public was closed to the press Tuesday afternoon, in seeming violation of Colorado’s Sunshine Law.

Erin Fenner, a Craig Daily Press reporter, was told to leave a meeting with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that followed a Tuesday morning tour of Moffat County sage-grouse habitat on Bord Gulch Ranch. Fenner said she’d heard that the 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Craig American Legion was going to be closed, “but (Tuesday) morning all three county commissioners said (the meeting) was going to be open and the press should come,” Fenner said.

A man who didn’t identify himself, but whom Fenner said she thought works in the Secretary of the Interior’s office and was acting on Jewell’s behalf, escorted her from the room and told her she couldn’t be there because she was with the press, Fenner recalled.

After Fenner returned to the newspaper office, managing editor Noelle Leavitt Riley called Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid on his cell phone and he told her, “Send her back to the meeting,” Leavitt Riley said, Kinkaid referring to the reporter Fenner.

Fenner returned to the meeting, she said, and was told to leave once again by the same man. She said she brought up Colorado’s Sunshine Law “and he said that we weren’t going to argue about it any more and said I had to get out,” Fenner said.

She said all three Moffat County commissioners were at the meeting, which she said appeared to be a standard question-and-answer session.

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