JP: I have.
AB: And why is he you choice for President?
JP: I have great respect for both of the candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I think whatâ€™s paramount is beating John McCain, but I personally identify with Barack Obamaâ€™s message of change. A critical aspect of my campaign is taking on the special interests and I think that Obama will have the fortitude to do that. Iâ€™ve also been impressed that he, like me, is not taking money from political action committees.
AB: What was that article today in the Denver Post? What do you make of that â€“ the article on your former investments in oil companies?
JP: Well, I think that when youâ€™re running for office, people comb through everything and look through everything, so there are certainly no surprises. I had to disclose my full financial picture, I think about nine months ago. Thereâ€™s certainly nothing new and I think candidates run for office, they have to expect this additional scrutiny.
AB: What do you think of that scrutiny? Is it useful in anyway?
JP: Well, yeah. Itâ€™s certainly not fun for the candidates, but I think itâ€™s a necessary and useful part of our democracy. Voters will make of it what they will. There are a lot of things that get reported that certainly donâ€™t matter to voters. If youâ€™re putting yourself out and youâ€™re running for office, you put yourself before a higher level of scrutiny. People want to know about your voting records, your past business dealings, anything thatâ€™s relevant. Obamaâ€™s been very up front, for instance, about how he used drugs when he was young, recreationally, he tried them out. As long as people are open and honest and not hiding anything, I donâ€™t think itâ€™s much of an issue. It only becomes an issue if somebodyâ€™s hiding something.
AB: Have you used drugs?
JP: I have not – believe it or not.
AB: Wow. Growing up in Boulder.
JP: I grew up kind of a square. Iâ€™ve never smoked pot or used any other recreational drugs.
AB: With regard to the Post article, how would you reply to a voter who says it’s hypocritical that you profited from companies you decried?
JP: No voter has ever said such a thing to me. I have earned my money in the Internet industry, primarily through my entrepreneurial success with American Information Systems, Bluemountain.com, and proflowers.com. When I found out that some of my asset managers had purchased stock in some mining companies, I instructed them to sell that stock.
AB: Another thing that came up in the Denver Post article, which I had actually noticed when preparing for this interview, was the amount of personal money that youâ€™ve put into your own campaign. There are two sides to that: obviously it takes a lot of dedication and confidence to invest so much money in yourself, but other people could wonder, â€œWell, does this mean heâ€™s having trouble drumming up cash?â€ Are you finding resistance from voters?
JP: Iâ€™ve actually been thrilled by the reception. Weâ€™ve raised in donations from other people over a million dollars. And thatâ€™s without a penny of PAC money. Thereâ€™s actually an inaccuracy in the article at the end that says we have a small amount of PAC money, but we have zero in PAC money. So, Iâ€™ve raised over a million dollars from individuals, which is roughly the same amount of money that Iâ€™ve put in. Iâ€™ve been thrilled with the outpouring of support locally as well as nationally.
Polis offered some more thoughts on the Denver Post article post-interview:
I can see how voters would be misled by todayâ€™s story in the Post, however they left out some pretty significant details that I think are worth mentioning. Itâ€™s very important to note that immediately upon learning that I owned stock in these companies, I sold them.
Thereâ€™s only one candidate in this race who has voted to help oil companies and thatâ€™s Senator Fitz-Gerald. The real issue is not just that she took thousands of dollars of corporate PAC money from them, but that she turned around and voted with the polluters in the state Senate.
Senator Fitz-Gerald even sponsored a bill that was called, by the Denver Post, “an oil and gas dream billâ€, that went after Colorado’s seniors, ranchers and working families. Then, in another Denver Post article from February 21, 2002, Senator Fitz-Gerald called the oil and gas industry, “the goose that lays the golden egg”.
Senator Fitz-Geraldâ€™s record is one of aiding the oil and gas industry, supporting pollution-causing coal, and taking PAC money from the global mining industry.