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GOP bumps Runyon from ECO TV; Hasans  contribute to Polis
Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon.
By David O. Williams 

GOP bumps Runyon from ECO TV; Hasans contribute to Polis

By David O. Williams

July 10, 2008 —  An anonymous conservative blog apparently has enough juice to catch the ear of the local Eagle County Republican Party, which Tuesday reportedly succeeded in getting an incumbent county commissioner running for re-election to give up his public-access cable TV show.

As reported by June 10, an e-mail sent by someone at the site objected to “use of taxpayer funded ECO TV for Peter Runyon, during Peter's election campaign.” Runyon, a Democrat, is facing Republican and former county commissioner Dick Gustafson in November’s general election.

On Wednesday, both the Vail Daily and the Vail Mountaineer reported Eagle County Republican Party chairman Randy Milhoan filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office alleging the show violated the state Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Runyon told the papers that he viewed the show as part of his duty as a commissioner and added that he didn’t think the show violated election laws because he didn’t discuss his campaign or campaign issues. The Eagle County attorney reportedly agreed, but Runyon struck a deal and stepped down anyway to avoid “silly news distracting from the real issues.”

The taxpayer-funded public-access channel will continue to cover commissioner meetings during Runyon’s normal course of duties, but no candidates running for re-election will be allowed to appear on the “Up Front” show until after November’s election.

In other political news, U.S. congressional candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald calls the substantial financial contributions by a prominent Republican family from Beaver Creek to the campaign of her chief Democratic rival, Jared Polis, a case of “strange bedfellows.”

The Beaver Creek family of Ali Hasan, Republican candidate for state House District 56, has contributed at least $13,800 to Polis, a millionaire Internet entrepreneur whose family owns a slope-side home in the Golden Peak area of nearby Vail.
Ali Hasan’s father Malik Hasan, a neurologist turned managed-care mogul, and mother, heavy-hitting GOP fundraiser Seeme Gull Hasan, have both chipped in the maximum allowable individual contribution of $2,300 to Polis’s Aug. 12 2nd Congressional District primary campaign against Fitz-Gerald and Will Shafroth.

Both elder Hasans donated the same amount to Polis’s general-election campaign if he wins the primary, and Ali Hasan’s sister, Aliya, also contributed the maximum to both his primary- and general-election campaigns. Ali Hasan, 28, the self-described conservative Muslim cowboy running against incumbent Democrat Christine Scanlan for the state House, hasn’t contributed to the Polis campaign, but says his family’s support is “not ‘strange’ at all really.”

“I am supporting the [Republican] Party's ticket, but I can confirm that many family members of mine have contributed to Polis and are quite proud of it,” Ali Hasan said by e-mail, referring to his personal backing of CD2 Republican nominee Scott Starin.

“We deeply love Eagle County, and it means a lot to us that Jared Polis has invested so much in building a school here in Gypsum [the New America School for recent immigrants] that has deeply helped many people here in the community,” said Ali Hasan, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Pakistan.

While very pro-business and clearly conservative on many traditional GOP issues, Hasan said in an earlier interview that he was motivated to run for the state legislature because Democrats have failed to carry through on a progressive agenda since winning majorities in both houses in 2004.

“There’s no civil union that’s legalized, there’s no gay marriage that’s legalized, there’s no guest worker program, there are no bills that have been passed that would help us bring in more seasonal workers, there’s been very little that’s been done that would help us address the poverty that we’re seeing in our barrios and ghettos, there hasn’t been any changes to our criminal justice system,” Hasan said.

“When you look at the fact that someone can go to jail over marijuana possession, right there that’s killing the family structure in some of our most low-income areas. And on the other hand you can drive drunk and you’re not going to go to jail.”

Asked if that means he would push for such measures if elected to the state House, Ali Hasan said, “I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a proponent of all of that, but I’m supportive of some of those things, but it depends on how the legislation is written. They’re sensitive things.”



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