Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is one of many Members of Congress to call for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki as part of the ongoing scandal surrounding care at VA Hospitals around the country. But as Aaron Cole reports in the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman's voting record doesn't exactly match his rhetoric:
Aurora U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, as recently as January voted against a spending bill that would have set aside as much as $100 million for overtime and additional training for claims processors to reduce the growing backlog of veterans waiting for care. Coffman joined 66 other Republicans in the House, including Colorado congressmen Doug Lamborn, Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton, in voting against that appropriations bill. VA officials and the Obama Administration are embroiled in a nationwide controversy over shoddy medical care for veterans…
…Coffman did not comment on his vote after repeated requests. [Pols emphasis] The Marines veteran and longtime Colorado politician is running for a fourth term to his 6th Congressional District against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat. The race is predicted to be one of the most expensive and competitive during the 2014 midterm election. Both sides are now targeting VA issues as election fodder.
Locally, Coffman has been critical of the VA’s handling of a replacement hospital being built in Aurora, which is the focus of a controversy about being over budget. Hundreds of millions in funding for the maligned Aurora VA hospital have also been packaged in larger spending bills that have faced opposition by Coffman and other GOP lawmakers. Two large bills that provided nearly $200 million in funding for the hospital in Aurora were opposed by Coffman in the years leading up to this most recent spate of criticism for mismanagement. A funding bill in 2009 for $119 million and a funding bill in 2011 for $42 million set aside for the VA hospital in Aurora were both opposed by Coffman. The 2011 appropriations bill would have been drafted by Republicans in control of Congress.
While it is certainly no real surprise to see Coffman saying one thing and doing another — he is, after all, a man who adjusts ideological positions like the rest of us change socks — but we're perplexed at Coffman's continued inability to deal with the media in an intelligent manner. You'd think Coffman would have learned more from his "Obama is not an American" debacle two years ago, but he and/or his campaign seem incapable of understanding that working with the media is a two-way street.
There are plenty of vanilla responses that Team Coffman could have provided to the Aurora Sentinel, and any of them would have been better than ending up with the sentence, "Coffman did not comment on his vote after repeated requests."
It's difficult to maintain that you have nothing to hide when your default response is…well, to hide.