Here are Colorado Newsline’s top 10 stories of 2020

Since the outlet launched six months ago, it has covered everything from campaign finance and climate policy to the state’s housing crisis and response to COVID-19

By: - December 31, 2020 8:30 am

Sen. Cory Gardner rides an elevator before a vote on the budget agreement at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 1, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

To say that our tiny newsroom of four has been busy the past six months would be an understatement. Since we launched at the beginning of July, in the middle of the pandemic, we’ve accomplished more than we thought possible. Thank you for following along and supporting our work.

We want to hear from you in the new year about what stories you believe need covering. Send us your ideas, questions and critiques at [email protected].

Happy New Year from the Newsline team. — Quentin, Faith, Moe and Chase

Colorado Newsline’s top 10 most read stories of 2020

John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, on the sidelines before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 27, 2019, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

1. John Elway’s donations to Gardner campaign exceeded limits

Hall of Famer and former star Broncos quarterback John Elway supported Sen. Cory Gardner’s reelection bid — maybe a little too much. The Federal Election Commission flagged Gardner’s campaign in September and ordered the organization to return money to Elway because he had already given the maximum amount a political donor can shell out to a campaign committee in an election cycle.



One person was shot and killed following rallies held by right-wing and left-wing groups in Denver’s Civic Center Park on Oct. 10, 2020. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

2. Man shot and killed after patriot muster in downtown Denver

The shooting occurred shortly after a “Patriot Muster” in Denver’s Civic Center Park, organized by John Tiegen, a Colorado Springs conservative and top surrogate for President Donald Trump’s Colorado reelection campaign. The event was protested by supporters of a variety of left-wing groups and causes. News outlets later reported that the shooter was a private security guard hired by 9News.


Lauren Boebert, Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks to supporters and the press during a MAGA meet up with the Trump Victory Team at the Old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Oct. 8, 2020. (Barton Glasser for Colorado Newsline)

3. Report: Lauren Boebert warned arresting deputies she had ‘friends at Fox News’ 

Newsline reporter Faith Miller broke the story that Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert, who has defended “law and order” and called on summer protesters to start “behaving” in the wake of widespread demonstrations against police brutality, was detained and handcuffed herself after a verbal altercation with law enforcement at a 2015 country music festival.



Jamie Amaral, a former security guard at the Sterling Correctional Facility in northeastern Colorado, poses for a portrait outside her house in Aurora in November 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

4. ‘It was just chaos’: Former Sterling prison guard says COVID protocols were not enforced 

During the six months that Jamie Amaral worked at the Sterling Correctional Facility during the pandemic, she said many of the coronavirus protocols put in place were not enforced. “I didn’t feel like I could do it anymore after seeing that people were dying off and how they were treating all the guys on the inside,” said Amaral.



Gov. Jared Polis speaks with a reporter during a press conference on Sept. 29, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

5. Colorado’s COVID-19 transmission is plateauing, Gov. Polis says

After a July that saw a spike in reported cases of COVID-19 rivaling April’s, the state’s three-day average of new reported cases appeared to be plateauing or declining. “Just because we are plateauing doesn’t mean we’re still not in a very precarious position,” Gov. Jared Polis cautioned at an Aug. 4 news briefing. “We can’t ease off.” 


A man packs up his belongings on July 29, 2020, after law enforcement and public health officials dispersed the homeless encampment located in Lincoln Park in Denver on July 29, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

6. Gov. Jared Polis calls recent clearing of a large homeless encampment around the Capitol ‘a relief’

Denver public health officials conducted a “sweep” of a large homeless encampment on July 29 in Lincoln Park near the state Capitol building. Gov. Jared Polis said during a news conference that he was, “deeply troubled by the dangerous health situation in that area.” The removal of the homeless camp is now part of an ongoing lawsuit.


Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, said during a press conference on Aug. 17 that he is exploring legal action against the Trump administration over mail-in voting. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

7. Colorado attorney general explores legal action against Trump administration over mail-in ballots

Colorado’s attorney general, Phil Weiser, said on Aug. 16 that he is working with other states to evaluate the “best legal options” to pursue against the Trump administration over the president’s efforts to undermine mail-in voting ahead of the November election.


Fremont County
Counties that meet certain thresholds for virus prevalence could automatically be eligible for looser restrictions under a proposed matrix. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

8. Counties with variances from COVID-19 guidelines could lose privileges 

Colorado counties with increasing COVID-19 case numbers that have been granted exceptions from state-level restrictions were told July 19 to submit a mitigation plan to reverse the trend within two weeks — or revert back to Colorado’s “safer at home” guidelines. Based on the guidelines approved for a particular variance, certain metrics could trigger a warning from CDPHE. 


The Suncor oil refinery, located just north of Denver city limits, is one of the region’s largest sources of toxic air pollution. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

9. Climate Inaction: Delays and disappointment mark two years of Colorado’s clean-energy push

Democrats took control of Colorado government in 2018. The following year they enacted climate legislation that seemed to promise a robust response to a growing emergency. But as the clock winds down on two years of Democratic control, many outside experts and advocates are left bitterly disappointed by the pace and scope of climate policymaking.


Elisabeth Epps, founder of the Colorado Freedom Fund, visited the Denver jail on Aug. 4, 2020, to bail out three men. She is concerned about the racial bias in risk assessment tools. (John Herrick for Colorado Newsline)

10. Bias against Black people found in Colorado bail reform tool

A study by the University of Northern Colorado found that the most widely used risk assessment tool in Colorado, known as the CPAT, scored Black people higher than white people even though their odds of missing a court date or committing a new offense were nearly the same. The assessment’s apparent racial bias means Black people may be more likely to pay higher cash bail amounts.

We wouldn’t be Newsline without our thoughtful commentaries. Here are the top 10 most read opinion pieces from 2020.

  1. No, Colorado is not a progressive paradise, by Mansur Gidfar
  2. Schools can reopen when adults follow the rules, by Trish Zornio
  3. Colorado no longer takes Republicans seriously, by Quentin Young
  4. Conspiracy theorists are on the rise in Colorado, by Trish Zornio
  5. Polis misses the mark without stay-at-home-order, by Trish Zornio
  6. Why is the National Guard investigating peaceful protests? by Alan Kennedy
  7. What is a modRNA vaccine and is it safe? by Trish Zornio
  8. Comparing slavery to abortion is racist and misogynist. Stop it. by Dani Newsum
  9. Subversive acts must come with a cost, by Quentin Young
  10. The Colorado leader who wants Denver to look like Portland, by Quentin Young


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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.