Disaster Relief Debate Explodes In Acrimony, Hypocrisy

UPDATE: AP's Nicolas Riccardi reportsCory Gardner's response to questions about his role in the government shutdown last year and tensions with East Coast states over disaster relief funds–once you get past the wall of faux outrage bluster from his surrogates–are really quite extraordinary. And not in a good way. Now we can see why he didn't want to actually talk about this, just yell.

Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano contended that congressman never supported the shutdown. However, Gardner, who is close to House Republican leadership, voted with other House Republicans to shoot down Democratic efforts to reopen government and for spending bills designed to be rejected by the U.S. Senate during the 16-day standoff. [Pols emphasis]

Siciliano noted that, before the shutdown, Gardner had warned against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open. Gardner was also one of a minority of Republicans who eventually voted to reopen government.

Udall spokesman Chris Harris said the Republican still deserves blame. "Everyone can say they don't want a shutdown, but what matters is what you do about it," Harris said. "What Gardner did caused the shutdown."

Udall's campaign also noted that Gardner voted against aid to communities hit by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which opened him to charges of hypocrisy from northeastern Republicans when he helped Colorado secure federal assistance after the 2013 floods. Siciliano said Gardner had supported an initial Sandy relief package but voted against a later version because it contained too much pork. [Pols emphasis]

And that, dear readers, is why Chris Christie called him a hypocrite.


Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, a simmering point of contention between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner blew up today into a full-fledged war of words, as Udall slammed Gardner over votes against Hurricane Sandy relief and to shut down the government in 2013–votes that came back to haunt the state during and after the historic flooding along the Front Range last September.

During a three-day road trip Monday through Wednesday, Udall, who is running for re-election, dinged Gardner while touting his efforts in helping Colorado’s flood victims. Udall’s campaign on Thursday sent a news release with the headline, “Gardner Endangered Flood Recovery.” Udall this week released a campaign ad featuring the emotional mayor of Jamestown talking about the flood.

“I was incredibly disappointed to hear and see Sen. Udall dismiss our work together on behalf of flood relief last fall,” Gardner said, in the release. “When Colorado suffers a disaster, we have a history of banding together as Coloradans and helping our family, friends, and neighbors recover. I led the effort in the House to secure federal disaster relief and stood proudly with Sen. Udall and others when we successfully moved this legislation through Congress.”

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

The impassioned response from Gardner’s campaign isn’t unexpected, but it offered Udall’s campaign a new opening: to attack Gardner and his fellow Republicans once again for voting to shut down the government last fall in an effort to stop the implementation of Obamacare.

The shutdown, which occurred just weeks after the floods, delayed federal disaster relief.

As Udall's campaign explained in their release, there are two parts to the story of last year's flooding and federal disaster relief that are bad for Gardner:

As Colorado was reeling from the worst flooding in our state’s history, Congressman Gardner chose to put his own extreme ideology over the needs of families struggling to put their lives back together. With many families still cut off from their homes and the flood waters still receding, Gardner voted to shut down the government — forcing Colorado to front the bill for National Guard personnel, endangering response readiness, and delaying assistance to farmers impacted by the floods.

In addition to voting to shut down the government and delay urgently needed recovery efforts, Gardner also had voted against the federal disaster bill that funded much of Colorado’s flood recovery needs. This funding was made possible by a disaster assistance bill that Congressman Gardner and Tea Party Republicans in the House fought against tooth and nail. As Republican Gov. Chris Christie said, House Republicans’ refusal to help Americans in need ‘was disappointing and disgusting to watch.’ [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner, Mark Udall tour Colorado flood damage.

Cory Gardner, Mark Udall tour Colorado flood damage.

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating flooding last year along the Front Range, local media wasn't very interested in battles playing out in Washington. But events combined to significantly threaten federal relief efforts to our state in late September and early October of 2013, at a time they were needed most. The first was the Republican-engineered shutdown of the federal government in a last-ditch attempt to halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The second factor, which we reported on in detail in this space, concerned bipartisan outrage from representatives of East Coast states impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. Rep. Cory Gardner and the rest of Colorado's GOP delegation voted against the second round of Hurricane Sandy relief funding. In an unfortunate twist, the disaster relief funds Colorado needed after our flooding last year were slated to come from the same pot of money approved in the disaster relief bill Colorado Republicans voted against.

Last October, politicians in both parties from areas affected by Sandy attacked Colorado Republicans for their hypocrisy. New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo called Colorado Republicans the "Hypocrisy Caucus." A front-page story in the New York Daily News quoted an NYC congressman saying "I only wish the best for the people of Colorado as they repair their lives after such devastation, but…these members are persona non grata in our town." The Washington Post covered Colorado Gov. Chris Christie's reaction:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday called out four Colorado Republicans in Congress who opposed a bill to fund disaster relief programs in his state, then turned around and pushed for federal aid when their state was hit by devastating floods.

“They’re hypocrites. That’s what they are,” Christie said of the Colorado Republicans [Pols emphasis] during a telephone town hall meeting Thursday night, in comments first reported by the Newark Star-Ledger. But, he added: “We can’t be vindictive. Because we have to be concerned about the actual people that are being hurt.”

Ultimately, Colorado did receive the money we needed for recovery–after efforts by Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to smooth tensions, and the release of a hold on Colorado's aid request by New Jersey's then-Sen. Jeff Chiesa.

With all of this in mind, this week's bitter exchange of press statements makes a lot of sense. Gardner's public anger over Udall calling him out for the shutdown and Sandy relief votes is meant to squelch what is in fact a devastating criticism. In hindsight, the GOP's government shutdown to stop Obamacare was an absolute fool's errand, one that hurt Republicans vastly more than anybody else. In Colorado, that pain took on added significance as federal disaster relief was delayed due to the shutdown. And when you combine that with Gardner's vote against Hurricane Sandy relief, which blew up in all of our faces as vengeful East Coast politicians made an example of our "Hypocrisy Caucus?"

God help Cory Gardner if Colorado voters realize the full truth of all this–which is why he doth protest too much.


37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Progressicat says:

    God I hate this crap.  Udall's folks are being ridiculous.  Yes, Cory was an utter and complete assbag for working against relief for the East Coast.  Yes, Cory should be disqualified from federal office for working to shut down the government he's responsible for running.  No, nothing he did had any qualitatively substantive effect on the relief efforts here that I've ever heard of.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Except voting to shut down the government and pissing off the entire Eastern seaboard?

      Like hell it didn't have an effect.

      • Progressicat says:

        What effort of rescue, recovery, or relief was delayed or rendered inadequate by Cory's actions?  I'm happy to be proven wrong, but I've never read about one.  All I ever saw were articles suggesting that such things could happen if the government were shutdown.

        • horseshit GOP front group says:

          What about the hold on Colorado's flood aid request by NJ Senator Chiesa ?   He very well have held this up as a result of being pissed off by little asshole Cory and other Colorado R's voting against Sandy relief.  I don't know, but it looks like it.

          • Progressicat says:

            The hold was released fairly quickly.  I've never seen a report that the highway funding that was held didn't get where/when it was needed.

            • JBJK16 says:

              Is your point that's it's ok for Gardner to be an hypocritical, lying weasel because in the end he was also ineffective and pointless?

              strange defense, but whatever.


              • Progressicat says:

                I don't feel the need to let a candidate that I support get away with lies or half truth bullshit any more than I do the other guy.  Just as I pointed out the lie in Gardner saying that Udall was the deciding vote on the ACA, I pointed out Udall's truth shaping here.

                • JBJK16 says:

                  Politics is harder than you think.

                  hardball hurts.

                • BlueCat says:

                  I don't see how accurately stating how Gardner voted is "truth shaping". Those votes show what Gardner wanted to happen whether he and those who voted with him were was successful in making those things (yes in the case of shutting down the government) or not.  

                  • Progressicat says:

                    " Gardner Endangered Flood Recovery.”

                    He didn't.

                    DENVER – As Colorado was reeling from the worst flooding in our state’s history, Congressman Gardner chose to put his own extreme ideology over the needs of families struggling to put their lives back together. With many families still cut off from their homes and the flood waters still receding, Gardner voted to shut down the government — forcing Colorado to front the bill for National Guard personnel, endangering response readiness, and delaying assistance to farmers impacted by the floods.

                    • Progressicat says:

                      When Carnegie or Modster post stuff like this, it's all hands on deck to provide context, dissect truth from fiction, and so on.  I've said before, I strive for consistency.

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Still don't see what's wrong here. Gardner voted as described. The fact that dire results were averted despite his vote has no bearing on his judgement in voting the way he did.

              • Duke Cox says:

                to be an hypocritical, lying weasel

                …not only an apt description, but, good grammar, as well.

    • mamajama55 says:

      There was a delay of about two weeks in repairing bridges damaged by the flood, due to the shutdown. Washington Post, 9/27/13

      Colorado had to pay the National Guard out of Emergency funds, and was hoping to get reimbursed from FEMA later. HuffPO, 10/1/13

      However, FEMA had announced previously that disaster relief wouldn't be affected by the shutdown, so you may have a point. ABC news, 10/1/13

      • Davie says:

        Rather, the point is the GOP in general, and our Republican Congressmen in particular, are crassly partisan and indifferent about causing massive damage to our nation — the citizens and the economy — in the pursuit of their goals. 

        The lack of empathy for others is a defining characteristic of many Republicans in office or otherwise in the public eye, simply measured by what they say and do.

        That cognitive process is what needs to be voted out of (or never into) office.

  2. Old Time Dem says:

    I hope someone is planning on airing a commercial or two attacking Gardner on these points.  They are devastating in that they get to the hypocrisy, heartlessness, extremism, and nihilism of Gardner and the Tea Party–while being simple to explain and understand.

  3. DawnPatrol says:

    Hilarious how touchy Con Man Gardner's campaign is about having to answer for things which GARDNER ACTUALLY DID.

    How DARE Senator Udall use Cory's votes, actions and statements against him in a political campaign! Why, why — it's…unheard of!

  4. itlduso says:

    Mike Coffman also voted against disaster relief and for shutting down the government.  I hope the Romanoff campaign has a commercial in the can that points that out to CD6 voters.

  5. Arvadonian1 says:

    Use the quotes from Chris Christie, Pete King (R-NY), and Rep. LoBiondo  (R-NJ, who coined the term "Hypocricy Caucus") against Gardner in an ad.  I can see a tag line, to the effect:  "If he can't even work with members of his own party, how can we expect him to work with across the aisle?"

  6. Canines says:

    Good thing that's the last time they'll ever be in a helicopter together!

  7. FrankUnderwood says:

    I'm amazed.  This thread has been up for over two hours now and neither AC nor Moderanus has posted anything in defense of Con Artist Cory.  Lines of communication with the Mother Ship (Americans for Prosperity) must be down or they'd have been on here with their talking points.  

  8. Charlie3637 says:

    After shutting the government down, Gardner went to a Karl Rove American Crossroads gathering in Georgetown. This was revealed in a new book, written by Ken Vogel.  Here is the link to the Fox 31 article. 


    A particularly note worthy section from the book reads:

    Vogel notes that he didn’t expect many prominent politicians to attend (House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both opted not to show up), figuring “it would look pretty bad for any Republican to be caught schmoozing big donors at the very moment that the party’s congressional contingent was being blamed for an unpopular stalemate causing real pain for regular Americans.”

    And then, Vogel writes, Gardner showed up along with Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin.

    “Just after 7 p.m.–at the precise moment when Boehner was emerging from the White House to announce there was no deal in sight to end the shutdown–up to the Crossroads summit registration desk swaggered two of the very men whose support Boehner would need to pass any such deal.”

    sounds like Gardner wasn't too upset about the shutdown…




  9. Advocate says:

    It is about time Udall's folks sent a high hard one across Gardner's chin, and the factg it is based ON THE RECORD (instead of those insulting, shady content bearing Monty Python-cartoons attacking Udall) is delicious. The tenor of Gardner's response…"I am outraged"…speaks to the effectiveness of this exchange by Udall…it is a weak, "Can't we all get along" retort…It is about time Gardner and his votes on this and other issues were directly addressed, and their rationale challanged. 

    • Duke Cox says:

      …and that principle applies across the board to the entire non-fact based message machine, from Rush, to Rand, to Ray (Scott). Our occasional poster, Konola, is running against him in SD 7 and challenging him at every turn. Representative Scott has enjoyed working with the same professional handlers that have (mis) guided Cory for the last few years. He is an AFP product, as well.

      It is past time for Democrats to stop being so frustratingly conflict averse and get after these lying bastards.

  10. Gilpin Guy says:

    I would like to see Gardner explain what he considered PORK in the Sandy Relief package.  He says he voted against it because there was too much PORK so what was it.  Have him spell it out what he considered to be unacceptable programs to fund.  The little lying shit would squirm over that question because we all know that he voted against it because the Obama administration was for it.

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