“So this is the Road to Red. We’re going to build an effective messaging machine. We’re going to build an effective movement, and we’re going to win elections again.” — former GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl.

As she addressed a virtual audience of donors from whom she was hoping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, Heidi Ganahl made no bones about the goal of her new political organizing project, which is composed of three entities: a political consulting firm, a data & technology shop, and a messaging machine, which is already up and running, called the Rocky Mountain Voice (RMV).

Ganahl describes the site as a news aggregator with its own editor that will, among other functions, also run a speakers’ bureau that can provide Republican county parties with free speakers for their Lincoln Day fundraising dinners. 

The newly hired Rocky Mountain Voice editor is Brian Porter, who was previously the publisher of a trio of Eastern Plains newspapers: the Fort Morgan Times, Brush News-Tribune, and Sterling Journal-Advocate. In addition to editing, Porter writes original RMV articles, including this one in February pushed out by Ganahl via email as “RMV EXCLUSIVE” coverage of the straw poll results of a candidate forum sponsored by the Conservative Patriot Alliance.

Porter, who left the papers and took the RMV job in January, continues to hold another leadership role: President of the Colorado Press Association, the state’s venerable trade association that represents “journalists, investigative reporters & truth-seekers throughout the state.” Porter did not respond to multiple requests for comment. This article will be updated with any response received.

Reached for comment, Tim Regan-Porter, executive director of the Colorado Press Association, acknowledged that CPA is aware that Rocky Mountain Voice is a conservative outlet, but expressed support of Porter and noted that as an entity, RMV isn’t yet a member.

“The fact that Rocky Mountain Voice has a point of view is something we talked about,” said Porter. “There were certainly conversations. There’s a lot of trust in Brian himself… Our membership guidelines, basically say that newsroom members need to be following journalistic best practices, and don’t go a lot beyond that. I think [RMV’s] intent is to apply to become members. They have to be around for a year before they can become a full member.”

According to the CPA website, in order to join the association, an online news website “must not serve primarily as a platform to promote the interests or opinions of a special interest group, individual or cause.” 

Regan-Porter also said the CPA rotates its board officers every year, and noted that Porter became President last fall, while still working for Prairie Mountain Media, which publishes the three Eastern Plains papers. His term will end this September. 

As for Rocky Mountain Voice potentially joining the CPA, after hearing Ganahl’s statements quoted here, Regan-Porter said they would be taken into consideration.

“We certainly don’t want to discriminate against someone because they’re conservative or progressive,” said Regan-Porter. “But the quotes you’re writing about, if they’re about the news outlet —I don’t want to speak for the board or the committee who actually makes those decisions — but that would certainly subject them to some review.” 

In a Zoom call to potential donors that was leaked to Facebook late last year, Ganahl described the Rocky Mountain Voice as one of the three components of her “Road to Red” project, which is intended help Colorado Republicans win elections. The plan is to create a one-stop voter outreach shop for nonprofit groups and political committees alike. 

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“As donors, we have our pet causes, the things that we care about, whether it’s a C4, a PAC, a c3, a candidate,” says Ganahl. “We donate to all these different factions and every one of those groups has to hire their own development person, their own lawyer, their own marketing person. They have their staff. Well, what if you could create a centralized place where we provide all that support and services, and then we as donors invest in that resource?

“We need to build an effective way to invest our money as donors,” said Ganahl. “So we’re going to build and invest into a movement — rebuilding our movement here. We’re going to build a messaging machine and we are going to leverage good, top-notch data and technology. The names of these that you’ll see come up are: Red Horse is the way we’re going to build the movement. Rocky Mountain Voice is the messaging machine, and Nucleus is the existing technology and data platform that we’re going to use to execute this.”

Ganahl went to explain that her “Road to Red” project would begin with the January launch of the Rocky Mountain Voice.

“We need to build a messaging machine, which is the Rocky Mountain Voice. That’s our first focus. We’d like to launch this January 10th, which is the first day of the legislative session. Now, what’s different about Rocky Mountain Voice from Complete Colorado or Campfire Colorado or Colorado Politics is that it’s an aggregator,” said Ganahl. “It’s one place, a website where you can go to get all of those news outlets. You can get the various podcasts, the newspaper links, the radio links, all of the conservative voices –or even other voices– will be on one platform that you can go to simply by just visiting the website. It’ll be updated every day with new content. We’ll also have our own writers, our own editor… We’ll have a speakers bureau so that as you host Lincoln dinners across the state, or if you have an event and you want a really fantastic speaker. We’ll have free speakers, we’ll have paid speakers from around the country- we will be able to coordinate that for you.”

The “Lincoln dinners” Ganahl mentions are county Republican parties’ annual fundraising galas, for which she says her nonpartisan 501c3 nonprofit will provide keynote speakers intended to draw a crowd.

When the Colorado Times Recorder noted Ganahl’s radio statement that RMV planned to go “all over the state sponsoring Lincoln dinners,” seemed at odds with her group’s nonpartisan status, Ganahl replied, “rest assured we work with attorneys to ensure that we are in compliance with state and federal laws. The sponsorships are not paid with c3 funds. I’m excited to promote the Rocky Mountain Voice to the grassroots at Lincoln dinners!”

Ganahl also addressed coordination with the state GOP in the Q&A portion of her virtual donor presentation.

“One thing I get asked a lot about is what about the GOP? Are you going to work with the GOP or how is that going to work? Well, you know, I get along fine with Dave and they’re doing their thing,” said Ganahl. “They’re focused more on lawsuits right now. I’m going to focus on rebuilding the grassroots and really building this messaging machine and getting people on this technology. I think that’s what we need to do to win again in Colorado. And I think that we can work side-by-side. We don’t have to be at odds at all. I’ve got several GOP county groups that are going on the platform that appreciate the support and the help. We’re all in this together.”

She also says she worked with Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams in creating RMV so that the site “complements their efforts.”

Facebook comment thread discussing Ganahl’s “Road to Red” donor pitch video, Jan. 5, 2024

In a Facebook exchange with skeptical activists discussing the video of her Zoom pitch to donors, Ganahl insists that Williams is “fully in the loop.”

“I have worked with Dave at CO GOP to make sure we are complementing their efforts. And it’s free support – there is no profit made on any group or person…period. Dave is fully in the loop and has been.”

Williams did not respond to an email request for comment about any collaboration he and Ganahl may have undertaken for her project. This article will be updated with any response received.

The Rocky Mountain Voice’s calendar is the Colorado GOP calendar

More evidence of the Rocky Mountain Voice’s support of the Colorado Republican Party can be found on the site’s calendar page, which simply takes the viewer to the state GOP’s own calendar.

The Rocky Mountain Voice shares another trait with numerous Colorado conservatives: using the wrong mountains.

Their website initially used stock footage from the Russian Caucuses on its homepage, until Colorado Newsline reporter Chase Woodruff pointed out the error.

And although that mistake was corrected, as of publication the banner image displayed on at least two of RMV’s social media platforms, Facebook and YouTube, features the tagline “Your Values Your Voice” superimposed over a dramatic panoramic shot of snowy peaks. The only problem is the mountains aren’t in the Rockies, but rather, the Himalayas.