Broomfield fracking fight shrinks to context of what councilman said and when he said it

Author: Joey Bunch - June 26, 2017 - Updated: June 26, 2017

Fracking BroomfieldA hydraulic fracturing (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

A political fight over fracking in Broomfield shows little sign of a final bell. Colorado Politics told you last week how resident Camille Cave called out Councilman Kevin Kreeger at a recent council meeting.

She said Kreeger had a “bromance” with Andrew O’Connor, the anti-drilling activist who justified a threat of violence against oil and gas works in an April 19 letter published in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Kreeger said he didn’t know O’Connor personally when he, like other council members (and state legislators, it turned out), received dozens e-mails from O’Connor about a proposed ballot initiative he was pushing to raise  severance taxes on oil and gas operations, before O’Connor’s over-the-top letter about blowing up wells and shooting oilfield workers.

Colorado Politics reported that, and Cave called us out on that point, noting that Kreeger corresponded with O’Connor after the letter.

“Kevin Kreeger called me a liar in public and the dates on his e-mails prove that I spoke the truth,” she wrote to this website. “And then when you published a story that also says I was untruthful, it just wasn’t right.”

We asked to see the e-mails, which she provided via  the oil-and-gas industry website Western Wire. In them, O’Connor and Kreeger corresponded cordially about the ballot initiative on March 1 and March 9, about six weeks before O’Connor’s letter in the Boulder paper.

The e-mail Cave quoted from, partially, at the meeting was dated May 2, almost two weeks after O’Connor’s letter to the editor.

“I applaud your energy and desire to fight for what’s right,” Cave said, reading Kreeger’s response to O’Connor.

She never said Kreeger advocated violence, which Kreeger has publicly repudiated, but Cave said at the meeting, “I was shocked to learn a member of this city council would have dealings with someone like Andrew O’Connor.”

In the paragraph before his compliment to O’Connor, Kreeger calls him out about his violent rhetoric.

“But you walk a fine line if what you say could sound like you advocate violence against people. If people take it that way, I think you hurt your cause,” Kreeger wrote. “And if you blatantly call for violence, then you’d be way over a line.”

In the sentence after the compliment, Kreeger said, “…You should tread lightly when it comes to certain statements.”

Camille said in an e-mail to Colorado Politics last weekend,” My concern was that Kreeger has a tendency to play both sides against the middle in his spoken and written words.”

Reached Friday, Kreeger said it’s unreasonable but intentional to try to hold him accountable for the words of a stranger who sent him an e-mail, even if he responds politely.

“The truth is if somebody solves hunger in Africa after they e-mail me or e-mail me and then do that, it doesn’t mean I get any credit for solving hunger in Africa,” he said.

Kreeger characterized the flap as pushback against residents who oppose oil and gas operations near homes and schools. He said they’re up against an industry that knows how to play the hardball politics of innuendo by sowing seeds of character assassination in a community.

“It’s the dirtiest kind of D.C. politics being injected into local Broomfield politics, people who want to crush reputations, to destroy people’s careers if they have to, to move them out of the way, people who are going to spend massive amounts of money to take control of the public conversation, all on behalf of the gas and oil industry,” Kreeger said.

Cave said she’s just a Broomfield resident, who’s lived in the city 10 years and worked there 20.

The full exchange between Cave and Kreeger can be watched here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.