BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 12/7/15
On two separate occasions, Adams State University (ASU) President Beverlee McClure misinformed over one hundred students and employees when she claimed Danny Ledonne was on a Colorado State Police “watchlist.” Watching Adams reported previously that no such list exists.
Students, employees, and citizens are left wondering why she would make a blatantly false claim such as this. Worse, others, unaware that her remarks have been proven false, may continue to believe them and share them with others. More unsettling is the question as to what other false claims have been presented in defense of her decision to issue persona non grata (PNG) status to Ledonne. These falsehoods, and Chief Grohowski’s statement that Ledonne has violated no laws or ASU policies, cast doubt on other allegations such as “terrorism,” “direct threats,” and “physical threats” against “the campus as a whole.”
During the “emergency” Faculty Senate meeting on November 18th, President McClure said: “[Ledonne] is also on a watchlist, for the state and the Colorado State Police.” Chief Grohowski was present, but made no attempt to correct McClure’s misinformation, either during the session or between then and the next time she misspoke in front of AS&F five days later. At that meeting on November 23rd, she said: “And in fact this individual is actually on a watchlist with the state police.”
In the AS&F meeting, a student senator asked, “they’re [State Police] not aware of this watchlist at all. And I’m curious – can you provide this watchlist to us? Can you show us that this watchlist exists?” McClure responded by claiming “I do have a copy of that in his file,” leaving some students to wonder how the president could have a copy of anything verifying Ledonne’s name on a non-existent list. Not backing down in the face of misinformation, the senator continued by asking, “does it break confidentiality for us to see that he’s on a watchlist?”
McClure responded by employing the type of sleight of hand more typical of a magician. “If he’ll allow us to do that we’ll be glad to do it. And since he’s all about transparency as are you, why don’t we – I’ll ask him to allow us to do that and we’ll show you the information that we have.” McClure has made no effort to contact Ledonne about this information. See Ledonne Requests Allegations, ASU Provides Hearsay for more on this.
Intelligent observers have to ask themselves, or the president, how can it be acceptable to tell listeners that Ledonne is on a watchlist, but somehow it’s not acceptable to provide proof. Ledonne’s confidentiality has already been violated with this false claim, and it’s hard to imagine who else’s confidentiality would be violated by providing proof of this general claim, which need not identify any individual complainant. Just as important, requiring Ledonne to release information before he has had a chance to review it violates his right to due process (14th Amendment).
McClure’s watchlist claim is damaging not only to Ledonne, but also to the public reputation of the Colorado State Police. In a related article (The Myth of the Colorado State Police Watchlist), Ledonne posted an audio recording of his call to the State Police. Although listening to the dispatcher repeatedly explain there is no State Police watchlist is rather entertaining, other Colorado State Patrol officials were less amused.
A sergeant and two captains were quick to respond to these allegations, one went as far as to visit campus in person to clarify the situation by speaking to an ASU faculty senator. Chief Grohowski accompanied the state patrolman. In that conversation, the officer made it extremely clear that a watchlist does not exist and went as far as to point out that such a list would be “irresponsible” and “illegal.”
Similarly, a captain from the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), a multi-agency, multi-discipline, law enforcement information-clearing house pointed out via e-mail:
“[I] to follow up on a question regarding the existence of any sort of Colorado sponsored watchlist. The answer is no…The term ‘watchlist’ is generally a federal process that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI use, to account for the whereabouts of individuals who have known ties to known terrorism groups. At a state level, there is no such thing and I am confident there never will be. Privacy, civil rights and civil liberty policies applied to intelligence is very strict in Colorado and simply would not support or condone any type of watchlist of U.S. persons.”
It is perhaps telling that the captain mentioned the term terrorism twice in describing his department’s mission, and yet, in spite of McClure’s “personal attacks and the terrorism” claim in the November 7th Valley Courier, the official knew nothing of Ledonne.
Regardless of the actual reasons that Ledonne was banned from ASU’s campus, President McClure’s ongoing commitment to falsehoods represents a real threat to the reputation of Ledonne, the Colorado State Police, and ASU. Ultimately, her double-down approach places ASU’s financial well-being in jeopardy. While ASU leadership seem to have little regard for Ledonne’s constitutional rights, it’s becoming more and more apparent that officials beyond ASU’s campus bubble—including local and state law enforcement officials, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—believe strongly in the need to defend the right to due process.
As President McClure becomes more and more entrenched, one cannot help but wonder how much longer the Board of Trustees will let her stand by her seemingly untenable position.