Tuesday morning, the Independent talked to Laura Carno, mayoral candidate Steve Bach's campaign chief of staff, seeking comment on questions about Bach's past. We were happy to be on the phone with Carno, considering that Bach's campaign has failed to return our calls at other times during the campaign.
But Carno, who was sent questions in advance, wouldn't comment for this story, other than to blame us for biased reporting.
Here's her statement:
"I'll just give you a broad overall statement that we're not going to do any interviews with the Independent. You guys have a bias in this race, and the articles that you all write whether Steve comments on them or not are intended to harm his reputation, and so we're just going to go the next seven days without doing any interviews with you guys."
Let's clear the air. Indy publisher John Weiss supports Bach's opponent, Richard Skorman, and has worked on Skorman's campaign while recusing himself from all editorial-related duties here. And yes, the Independent has endorsed Skorman.
But the daily newspaper, the Gazette, has similar conflicts. In 2009 and 2010, publisher Steve Pope served on the board of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, one of Bach's outspoken supporters, which reinforced its endorsement after allegations of Bach's spousal abuse arose. And the Gazette has endorsed Bach.
That aside, the Independent staff has diligently researched both candidates. We've done stories about Bach, largely based on public records. We would have written similar stories about Skorman if we'd found the ammo. We didn't.
Allegations backed up
The records are the records, and voters deserve to know important information about their candidates. So let's run through it:
Bach's first wife, Marian Volk, still says Bach beat her several times during their brief marriage in 1968-69. Volk was granted a divorce on the basis of "mental and physical cruelty," records show. Volk says Bach beat her so severely that he bent his wedding ring. Bach denies the allegations, but Volk continues to insist they're true despite Bach calling them fabrications.
Volk's friend, Donna Clausen, tells the Independent she's known Volk since before Volk married Bach. A retired law enforcement officer who works as a paralegal in Denver, Clausen says Bach tried to isolate Volk from her friends and "slammed her head into the floor" for talking with Clausen. Even before she married Bach, Volk went to Clausen's house to hide from him, Clausen says. After they married, Volk sought refuge in Clausen's house and several times had visible bruises and red marks on her body, Clausen says.
"Attempting to isolate the partner is a hallmark of domestic violence," Clausen says. "Marian blamed herself for what was happening. She was embarrassed by what he was doing to her and reluctant to discuss it. Because, as Steve so frequently reminded her, the physical violence was her own fault because she was an inadequate girlfriend [and] wife."
After Bach was married to his second wife, Jane Watson, for about eight years, she sued for divorce in October 1980. Bach, who had joined the Watson development business in June 1979, attempted to force his father-in-law, Jules Watson, out of the empire Jules created. It took a restraining order to halt Bach's efforts, and he was given a divorce settlement of nearly $1 million in 1981. Bach married his third, and current, wife Suzanne in 1984 ("Bach to business," News, April 21).
Bach's statement Tuesday ignored previously submitted questions about finances related to his second divorce. For her part, Jane Watson Netzorg (her name now) wouldn't comment on those issues, saying, "I won't comment on anything concerning the father of my daughter."
Bach also lost a property to foreclosure in 1990 and, as far as Indy research can determine, hasn't owned a property solely in his name since. He and his wife currently live in a home on Carriage Creek Point in north Colorado Springs that's held by the Bach 2008 Irrevocable Trust, which has a Boulder address.
On Monday and again Tuesday, we presented Bach's campaign with a list of questions. We encountered him at the entrance to the mayoral forum Monday in the Plaza of the Rockies building as he arrived more than a half-hour before showtime. He refused to talk.