The expulsion of a Colorado political reporter from a Republican rally is causing an uproar

DENVER — Politicians and news media in Colorado expressed outrage Monday over the expulsion from a Republican rally of a veteran political reporter who was told the state party chairman believed her reporting was “very unfair.”

Journalists and elected officials, including the former chair of the Colorado Republican Party, came to the defense of Colorado Sun reporter Sandra Fish. The controversy follows the contours of attacks on the national press, sparked in part by former President Donald Trump’s popularization of the term “fake news.”

The state’s Republican Party announced on the social media platform the CD4 Assembly. process, & Now she’s licking fake journalists who only help Democrats.”

The post was a direct response to Flora’s post about X defending Fish, in which Flora said the eviction was “wrong and a violation of the First Amendment.”

Party Chairman Dave Williams, who identifies himself on the state GOP website as “Dave ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Williams,” is seeking the nomination for the 5th District seat of Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who is retiring from Congress.

In a text, Williams said he did not apologize for kicking Fish out of Saturday’s Pueblo meeting and accused her of being a “fake journalist” and The Colorado Sun of being biased. When asked, Williams did not provide any examples. The Colorado Sun is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news outlet covering Colorado.

“I invite everyone to provide examples where The Colorado Sun or Sandra Fish are unfair or inaccurate. So far I haven’t heard anything,” said Larry Ryckman, editor of the news station. “The Founding Fathers weren’t big fans of newspapers at the time. But they understood that a healthy democracy requires a free, unfettered press.”

The meeting, about two hours south of Denver, was in part to select representatives for the Republican National Committee and to work on a party platform for the election.

“There are 900,000 Republicans in the state of Colorado and many unaffiliated voters who are interested in what happens at this meeting. And how they find out is because reporters like me are there to cover it,” Fish told The Associated Press by phone on Monday.

“I am, as someone commented on Twitter, a little old lady. And I’ve been in this business a long time, and I just don’t think it’s right to ban a reporter from a meeting like this,” said Fish, who has covered politics since 1982.

Fish said she had heard rumors before the event that she would not attend, and she asked the event organizer, Eric Grossman, who texted her Thursday that he would contact her.

“Thanks. I’ve been at these meetings for at least seven cycles and have never had any problems,” Fish texted back. Ryckman tried to reach Williams to talk Thursday evening, but said Williams never responded.

Before dawn Saturday, Grossman texted Fish saying she would not be placed on the press list and that “the state chair believes the current reporting is very unfair.”

“I went anyway because, come on, this is supposed to be an open event,” said Fish, who was checked in and given press credentials to wear around her neck, along with a Colorado Sun name tag.

About an hour later, security asked her to leave. Fish showed her press credentials, after which Grossman arrived and a sheriff’s deputy was soon called. Fish left with the deputy.

“We make no apologies for kicking out a fake journalist who actually snuck into our event,” Williams said in a text message. “Her publication is just an extension of the Democratic Party’s PR efforts, and the only response we see is from the fake news media, radical Democrats, and establishment RINOs who hate our conservative base.”

Grossman said in a text that Fish’s actions were “a selfish political stunt.”

Republican Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer defended the reporter, writing in a post on X: “Sandra Fish is honest; honest and respected reporter, as a Republican I am ashamed of the Republican chairman.”

Former Colorado Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown also agreed with X, describing Fish as “tough but fair. … This is a dangerous approach by the current (Colorado GOP). … Transparency is necessary for our nation.”

Fish has reported, among other things, on how the Colorado Republican Party under Williams’ leadership paid for mailers that subtly attacked one of Williams’ leading opponents, and that fundraising slowed under his chairmanship.


Bedayn is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.