History Lesson: How Mike Coffman Does “Accountability”

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Last week, it was announced that former Kansas Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will resign, to be replaced by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Sebelius leaves with an admittedly mixed record after presiding over the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's namesake Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace website–even though a late surge in enrollment ultimately allowed the administration to claim success, meeting the initial goal of seven million insurance signups by the end of March.

Sebelius' legacy as head of HHS during the rollout of "Obamacare" is linked to the success of health care reform, and it's a good bet that she'll be remembered more fondly as the early failures of the program fade from memory. For today, though, let's take a look at the response to Sebelius' resignation as announced Friday by embattled GOP Rep. Mike Coffman:

I learned this very early on during my time in the military — no organization can operate effectively in the absence of accountability.  The sad truth is, until today, there has been zero accountability for the broken websites, the broken roll-outs and the many broken promises that have swamped Obamacare. In the military, the business world, or any other walk of life, Secretary Sebelius would've been shown the exit long, long ago…

Okay, full stop. We're not sure how many readers remember the story of Coffman's former Elections Director from his time as Secretary of State, a gentlemen by the name of Dan Kopelman, but if you know Kopelman's story, Coffman's remarks about Sebelius can be easily cast as hypocritical. Dan Kopelman was caught in 2007 running a partisan elections data business on the side while working for Coffman at the Secretary of State's office. The obvious conflict of interest made for months of terrible press for Coffman, and forced Coffman to implement a "new policy" prohibiting SoS elections employees from holding "an official position in a partisan organization or political party" or working "for or against a candidate for a partisan office."

Which you'd think would be obvious.

Despite Kopelman's clear violation of C.R.S. section 24-50-117, which states that "no employee shall engage in any employment or activity which creates a conflict of interest with his duties as a state employee," Coffman didn't show Kopelman "the exit" at all–simply transferring him within the Secretary of State's office "to a job where he does not have access to voter data."

What's the difference, you ask? With Sebelius, the headlines are much bigger! And, as with so much of Coffman's long history in politics, the Kopelman episode was so many years ago–2007, ancient history–that he's counting on nobody remembering it ever happened. But we do, and as long as the Rocky Mountain News' archives stay online, Coffman will earn blowback over Kopelman every time he gets preachy.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Let me save the trolls some time.

    See more on Know Your Meme

  2. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    This one too.

    See more on Know Your Meme

  3. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Anyone else notice the similarity between the the present Coffman campaign and the old Giuliani run for the Republican presidential nomination? With Giuliani it was a a noun a verb and 9/11. With Coffman it's a noun a verb and a reference to his military career. A career, I might add, nowhere near as distinguished as that of my former Dem HD Rep. Col. Joe Rice. Wish he'd run for something again.

  4. HappyWarrior says:

    Andrew Romanoff was given a stand ovation Saturday night — Romanoff is a winner and Coffman's campaign of flipping and flopping and flipping again is going to lead him to a ten point loss in November.  Romanoff will carry CD 6 by a larger margin than Senator Udall

  5. HappyWarrior says:

    oops standing not stand ovation 

  6. dwyer says:

    From a practical point of view, replacing Sebelius before the first sign up period would have complicated the process even more.  It could have given the Republicans an opportunity to stall on improving a successor.  It would have meant that no one was in charge during the critical time up to March 31st.

  7. ajb says:

    Which, ironically, gave Sebelius a chance to repair her reputation. In the end, losing one month in the sign-up period was a bump in the road, not the coup de grace. 

  8. Old Time Dem says:

    Accountability?  Sebelius resigned and the software vendor was replaced.

  9. Ray SpringfieldRay Springfield says:

    I remeber this well. He maintained plasible denialibilty. I belive that he knew what was going on. The buck stops where?

  10. notsoros says:

    Let’s get this straight. Udall and Reed take property from hard working Colorado residents, and that is fine, but a guy with a Web site, unused for over a year, who worked in an office that sells voter lists, yet had none at the time and who loses a $10,000 promotion, is a problem? Really? You people are f$+!*ing morons.

    • roccoprahn says:

      OK, let's play.

      "Udall and Reed take property from hard working Coloradoans".  

      Fill me in on that. 


    • roccoprahn says:

      Part 2.

      "Worked in an office that sells voter lists". Whose partisan voter data business was it?

      Are you going to say it wasn't a conflict of interest (for the voters he was supposedly representing as campaign manager for coffman).

      This is gonna be fun. 

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