BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The debate over fracking is leading to unsavory campaign tactics in Broomfield, according to some council members.
Players in the oil and natural gas industry have been accused of funding what many are calling dirty politics with help from a high-powered Washington-area public affairs firm.
Members of the firm Definers usually engage in opposition research for national candidates, according to political experts.
Broomfield residents are shocked that such a firm would be interested in local politics.
For months, the debate over fracking expansion has been front and center in Broomfield.
Residents are concerned about their safety and council members have reported receiving threats.
But now, a new chapter in the drama seems to be one of political mudslinging.
“Facts are twisted and distorted,” said Broomfield Councilman Kevin Kreeger.
Kreeger, who has been critical of fracking near homes, said the energy industry is working to silence him by suggesting he supports violence against fracking employees. That is something Kreeger said is not true.
“If you speak out against an oil and gas project, you get a lot of people who tell you that you will be attacked,” Kreeger said.
The firms involved in Broomfield politics are Virginia-based Definers and Western Energy Alliance in Denver.
The firms did not return calls Tuesday. Kreeger and his supporters said those organizations are feeding fake news to the masses as a way to expand fracking.
“We have one topic that seems to be a little divisive, and that’s not all of who we are,” Broomfield Councilwoman Sharon Tessier said.
Council members, who only make about $600 a month, are calling for civility. They said they did not choose a life of public service for the money, but instead, to help improve lives.
“It’s too bad that one issue has divided the community and the rhetoric has toned up,” Broomfield Councilman Mike Shelton said.
A representative from Front Range Energy Alliance, a group supportive of responsible fracking, spoke to council on Tuesday.
He said the attacks are also coming from anti-fossil fuel energy forces such as 350.org, a firm the representative claimed is behind the recall election of Councilman Greg Stokes.
Stokes is viewed by many as supportive of fracking efforts.
Those in Broomfield government said all of the political craziness is a first for the city, a once small town entering into a world of big-league politics.
Late Tuesday, a representative from Western Wire, a project affiliated with Western Energy Alliance, defended what was alleged against Kreeger as fact.
The recall election for Stokes is set for July. Other members are up for re-election in November.