Colorado TV stations urged to pull Kirkmeyer ad centered on ‘flat-out lie’
Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Brighton, speaks on the Senate floor April 6, 2022. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
A progressive group on Monday called on Colorado TV stations to refuse to broadcast a “blatantly” false campaign ad from state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, the Republican nominee in the 8th Congressional District.
In the ad, Kirkmeyer falsely claims — twice — that Colorado Democrats, including her opponent, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, “voted to legalize fentanyl possession.”
“You heard me — they legalized fentanyl. It’s time to get tough on criminals and save our kids,” Kirkmeyer’s ad concludes.
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Kirkmeyer’s campaign did not respond to questions about the ad or the basis for her false claim. Colorado conservatives have criticized a 2019 law, passed by bipartisan majorities of both chambers in the General Assembly, which reduced penalties for the possession of small amounts of schedule I or II drugs, including fentanyl, reclassifying such offenses from felony to misdemeanor status.
Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers reversed some of those changes by lowering the felony possession threshold for synthetic opioids like fentanyl from 4 grams to more than 1 gram. At no point has the possession of fentanyl, a powerful opioid commonly used in medical settings, been “legal” without a prescription in Colorado.
ProgressNow Colorado, a liberal advocacy group, called on Colorado TV stations to pull Kirkmeyer’s ad from the airwaves.
“There is absolutely no justification for Kirkmeyer’s claim,” Sara Loflin, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “It’s not just misleading, or a difference of opinion, it’s a knowing and deliberate flat-out lie.”
“Responsible media outlets should immediately remove this ad from broadcast, and Barb Kirkmeyer owes the residents of the 8th Congressional District an apology for brazenly lying about this gravely important subject,” Loflin added.
Kirkmeyer, a former Weld County commissioner and longtime fixture in northern Colorado politics, has spread a number of false or misleading claims in her campaign for Colorado’s newly created 8th District seat. In a debate last month, she wrongly claimed that only 22 oil and gas drilling permits had been issued in Colorado in 2022; the true number was nearly 40 times higher.
Toxicologists, criminologists and experts in the treatment of substance-use disorders have repeatedly pushed back on misinformation and conspiracy theories relating to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which have become far more prevalent in recent years following a crackdown on prescription painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Because of its high potency in extremely small quantities, fentanyl is dangerous when manufactured and used in non-medical settings, and it has fueled a crisis of accidental overdoses when taken by itself or mixed into other drugs.
Experts, however, say that viral hoaxes, like allegations that fentanyl pills were being given out as Halloween candy, are common, and a persistent myth claiming that fentanyl overdoses can be caused through airborne or skin exposure is pharmacologically impossible.
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