BREAKING: Gardner Snared In Access Peddling Junket Expose

Full video after the jump

UPDATE: The Colorado Independent has reaction from Rep. Cory Gardner's Democratic opponent, Senate President Brandon Shaffer, who needs more exposés like this one:

"This is just latest example of what's wrong with Washington and Congressman Cory Gardner," state Senate President Brandon Shaffer, who is running to unseat Gardner this year, told the Colorado Independent. "Despite campaigning on a pledge to stand up to the Washington special interests, Congressman Gardner has sold out to the highest special interest bidders and lobbyists. [He] has been a reliable vote to put the special interests and the ultra wealthy first, while leaving the middle class and seniors last."



CBS News seems to be in the process of breaking a problematic story for our up-and-coming freshman representative in the relatively safe 4th Congressional District (video after the jump):

In 2010, many freshmen Republicans were swept into Congress on the promise of doing things differently. But fast-forward to 2012, and the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. — an exclusive seaside resort and home to 54 holes of championship golf and a private marina full of luxury yachts.

That's where we caught up with a select group of Republican freshmen, engaged in business as usual. But they didn't come alone. They invited big campaign donors and lobbyists to join them – for a price. And we secretly sent our cameras along for a unique inside look at their first joint fundraiser, where special interests got the kind of access ordinary Americans can only dream of: on the golf course; over drinks at the resort bar; at a private beach lagoon…

Congressmen Canseco and [Cory] Gardner were seen on camera heading in to host happy hour. To get in, donors had to pay at least $10,000.

During his campaign, Gardner promised average voters would inspire his actions. One ad said, "I will always put Colorado families before the Washington special interests."

But in Key Largo, Gardner appeared to offer special interests lots of face time. [Pols emphasis] He was seen on camera talking to an attendee who said he works for a bank. In another shot, he's seen going charter fishing as part of the fundraising package — they head out on a group of boats including one named "Good Life."

While the story doesn't allege any laws were expressly broken on this trip, they raise the obvious questions about why lobbyists pay so much for this kind of intimate and prolonged access. Rep. Cory Gardner has quickly taken to the Washington, DC Republican elite culture since his election in 2010, playing a role in powerplays between Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor and frequently cited as the "A-list" GOP member of our delegation. Gardner seems to have reached the hockey-stick moment in his upwardly mobile political career, with a newly-safer seat and and a clear path to the highest levels of GOP congressional power.

Folks, this is what you do behind the scenes–what some will say he must do–to be that guy. A fitting analogy we can think of, but probably wouldn't recommend, is one Rush Limbaugh and friends have made toxic. Whatever you call it, it looks very bad on a grainy hidden camera.

A poll follows–how "safe" is Cory Gardner, really?

How much hidden camera access peddling can Cory Gardner endure?

View Results

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45 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. SSG_Dan says:

    If you let this go, you might as well fold your campaign tent now and make vacation plas for November.

    At the UVC candidate forum, I listened to Gardener hoot and screech about liberty, ethics and sticking up for the average citizen.

    Get to Washington, and you’re just another Repub whore sucking Lobbyist dick for money.  

  2. Ralphie says:

    And waiting for Arapahole to show up…

  3. jaytee says:

    This is typical of Gardner, our big-oil freshman. If he were up against a likeable competent enviro-friendly GOP moderate in a real primary, this would mean something. Republicans in CD4 aren’t going to see hobnobbing with highrollers in Fla, where nothing illegal was done, as a dealbreaker, unfortunately.  


    • Car 31 says:

      Almost an Onion article here:

      Elected Representative Influenced by Money and Gifts!

      Willard, CO – CBS News reported today that elected Representatives were influenced by some special interests while on a fundraising junket in Florida.

      When asked about this development, Frank Frankson said he would still vote for his guy. “I’m a tea-party member and I’m going to stand by my man. I’m dissapointed that he was caught having fun in the sun, but he’s still better than that liberal asshole Socialist Boulder Obama loving Obamacare taking bail ’em all out Democrat whose running against him!”.

      • NoCo_Indy says:

        I’m not sure even the Onion could have nailed down the sentiments of the suburban Logan County voter like you did here. But I’m betting had Diggs Brown stayed in the race for a little longer in 2010 it might have been a little more interesting.

    • Craig says:

      You really don’t see what happened to the “Republican” Party here in Colorado in the last 20 years?

      • jaytee says:

        Are you saying there’s a strong grassroots movement on the right devoted to holding Republican officeholders to account, making sure they’re not corrupt and that they put constituent interests above all others?

        Yeah… I don’t really think so. They voted in Gardner, didn’t they? They voted in Tipton, didn’t they?  

  4. allyncooper says:

    “They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”

    FDR – 1936 campaign

  5. Love & a .45 says:

    This story is long on hype and dramatic music, and void of any wrong doing.

    “…it is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

    • BlueCat says:

      I’m guessing you’d be singing a different tune but must agree this isn’t going to cost him much and certainly not his seat. For that  the grainy footage would have to include him in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.  Republicans set the bar so low it’s almost impossible to crawl under.

      • Love & a .45 says:

        Both parties do this sort of fundraising, it’s not illegal, and CBS failed to make a real connection between the grainy footage of Cory eating seafood and actual influence peddling.

        Parties raise money. It’s what they do to run campaigns, and keep their consultants paid. 🙂  

        • BlueCat says:

          both parties do this sort of fundraising but stand by my observation… feel free to consider it independent of this particular incident … that standards which GOP pols have to meet to retain the esteem of their voters is too low to limbo.  

        • Fidel's dirt nap says:

          thats how you run campaigns, then fine, but don’t go running around like some sort of fucking boy scout like Gardner does telling everyone he’ll put the interests of his constituents first, and he’ll get in there and fix whats broken in Washington.

  6. Albert J. Nock says:

    CBS and Pols overlook the obvious, Dems do the exact crap and the system is broken beyond repair.

    • Where are the exposes on Democratic junkets?  There’s not a shortage of conservative “news” out there.

      Yet we always find Republicans at the end of the water ski tether or at the handle of the golf club.  Why is that?

      • BlueCat says:

        who, during the last election cycles were holding up Rachel Maddow as an example of the same hateful extremism on the left as Rush represents on the right.  They have no accurate equivalency meter.

    • Pam Bennett says:

      Doing the equivalency dodge, eh? This expose is about freshman R’s who are teabaggers, going to the exclusive (you are not invited) resort for mixing tacos with banking lobbyists. Cory (I would enjoy a tape of him golfing) is prime mover and shaker of the “virgin” and very “innocent” Republicans getting the money and selling the access.

      This is not about Dems. I do not see a single Dem on the short list. This is about Republicans and Cory (can you imagine him in swim mask, water wings and snorkle?) in particular.

  7. caroman says:

    Just yesterday, we were talking about Steve Farber and Norm Brownstein fundraising for Mike Coffman.  Today, it’s about Gardner’s special interest lovefest.

    The common link?  Money in politics.  Duh.

    To quote Rick Santorum, “It makes me want to throw up.”

  8. Early Worm says:

    Agree with all that have noted that this is not illegal and not unique to Republicans.  The story is that the freshman class of republicans, most of whom got elected as self-identified tea party candidates, has stopped drinking the tea.  Now that they are in Washington, they are enjoying the perks of being an insider. The only aspect of the tea party movement that I agreed with or sympathized with was the anti-establishment bent. I do not believe that it was ever a sincere sentiment with the money behind the movement, but it was the common theme that bound the rank and file.  The story is that Gardner and his fraternity mates have sold out the tea party.  But I agree, the only consequence he will suffer is a few harsh words at a constituent get together from somebody wearing a tri-corner hat.  

  9. VanDammer says:

    Cory was one of the GOP darling freshies that couldn’t wait to put their name on a big empty pledge attacking, “An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.”

    Now try to tell me how a FL junket filled with $10,000 donors held in an extremely exclusive Keys resort ain’t a bit “arrogant and out-of-touch?”  Didn’t he also run on a platform to bring more transparency and accountability back to Washington D.C.”  Hmm, is Cory willing to come clean about who footed the bill for this trip and who he met with?

    Please give this a read to see what his constituents think: An Open Letter to Congressman Cory Gardner from Councilman Sean McCoy    

  10. Albert J. Nock says:

    My brother in law is a Doctor and big pharma wines and dines him and his peers the same way.  

    • ajb says:

      The most bloated, inefficient health care system in the world. You must be so proud of your brother.

    • DaftPunk says:

      I’m a doctor, and outside of an educational dinner where they are allowed to buy you (not your spouse) a meal, the days of golfing trips,  etc. are more than a decade in the rear view.  I was at the last Phrma dinner before the rules changed in 2000 where they took us to a Rockies game.  No more.

      • DaftPunk says:

        even get sticky notes and ballpoint pens anymore.

        • Canines says:

          Some of those have to be collectibles, by now.

        • Aristotle says:

          and I fondly remember using a big, fat ruler that he got, made out of the same kind of plastic as wallet calendars, which featured a picture of a spoon with some pink medicine in it. (Remember when it was acceptable to take medicine with a spoon?)

        • PERA hopeful says:

          I worked in a pharmacy before law school and I got the swag the pharmacists didn’t want.  I got a sweet Mellaril coffee cup, which I gave to a boss much later in life, and a gavel that proved somewhat useful in my legal career.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Nock is full of it; either that or he hasn’t spoken with his brother-in-law this century.

        The question should be why can’t our politicians be held to those same rigorous standards that the medical profession must now abide by?

          • droll says:

            but I read all your links, since I don’t know about this subject, and find you lacking in convincing abilities. One requires a log-in and only two seem to have dates mentioned; the first being from early 2004 (nearly a decade in the rear view) and the second being recent. But both mention new regulations to tighten gifts. Further, the only thing mentioned in the way of “gifts” seems to be meals, which Dr. Daft already mentioned. Other swag isn’t mentioned in any kind of context, that matters here.

            Somewhat hilariously, one of the papers is about how even though you wouldn’t think something so dumb as lunch and a pen would convince someone, it does seem to work. Just human nature. So I guess it’s not different, really. Just much, much worse. I can switch a doctor I don’t trust, but folks are stuck with a Congressperson for at least two years and only get rid of them with the hope that anyone else cared to pay attention. One extra, fully vetted medication could be harmful, but the banking industry tanking our country was much more harmful in the long run.

            You either misunderstand your b-i-l, your b-i-l exaggerates the situation, your b-i-l is in violation of any number of regulations, or you can’t source for shit. <–The first “potty” language of the thread, save VanD, who you curiously did not call out on swearing, but did make what must be the most random statement with the word “grungy” in it. At least on this board.

            Thanks for the info all the same.

    • VanDammer says:

      First off, you’re in-law is either lying or is complicit in violating the Compliance Program Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.  Your in-law or his reps should be reported (or maybe you’re lying and don’t know your ass from the facts).

      2nd, just what the fuck does your idiotic finger-pointing at pharma do but show you’re a shill and either ignorant of Gardner’s hypocrisy or abide the IOKIYAR bullshit.  Oh that’s right — yer a Rush Baby so hypocrisy & denial are part & partial to your existence.    

  11. Raphael says:

    because, while I would love to see a story that would take down Gardner as much as the next Dem, this is nothing shocking, surprising, or controversial. And all the other poll options seemed to suggest that this story is still somehow super damaging to Gardner but, because of redistricting, he will be safe. Even if Gardner’s seat was drawn 50/50 Dems to Repubs, this would not be a make it or break it story for him.

    It’s bad press to be sure, but a candidate promised to be “for the people” and reject special interests but then spends their time in office hob-nosing with big-money lobbyist donors? That’s a story that could be written about almost every candidate/politician ever. A career ending or endangering story/press has to stand out from the usual not be another “well this is why everyone hates all politicians” issue.

  12. DavidThi808 says:

    Yes the soft corruption that pervades Washington is a major problem. But as many said here, everyone does it and that inoculates all of them from any long term blowback.

  13. dmindgo says:

    I don’t get why this isn’t reported as personal income.  Meaning the trip itself, not the donations.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      That’s where we caught up with a select group of Republican freshmen, engaged in business as usual.  But they didn’t come alone.  They invited big campaign donors and lobbyists to join them – for a price . . .

      Congressmen Canseco and [Cory] Gardner were seen on camera heading in to host happy hour. To get in, donors had to pay at least $10,000.

      Looks like everyone probably paid their own way (more or less), just that the price of admission for the special favors club entertainment involved some Mitt-Rmoney-sized-bettin’-money “campaign donations” . . . er, sorry, I meant “free speech” . . .

  14. Pam Bennett says:

    I thought you all might like to know that the CBS video is doing quite well in DC, even know. It is really a view of the “other side” in action. Of course today the whole story are the cherry blossoms and the 100th anniversary of them arriving here.

    However, Cory you did very well in making your name on the same list as Kantor, da Cooch, McConnell and other assorted Republican types.

    A lobbyist $$$, prime time TV expose – priceless.

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