Mike Coffman Compares Veterans Administration to ISIS, Makes Beheading Jokes on Radio

MONDAY UPDATE #2: Via the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews, the Department of Veterans Affairs responds:

A VA spokeswoman chided U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Monday for statements the Aurora Republican made recently in which he imagined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs running the terrorist group ISIS.

His “comments do not belong in our public discourse,” said VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon in a statement. “Veterans and VA employees find them highly offensive. (VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald has spoken to Representative Coffman.”


Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

MONDAY UPDATE: National news outlets quickly pick up this story, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski:

“I was speaking before a group the other day and said it’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under VA’s leadership,” said Coffman…

A Coffman spokesman said the comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. [Pols emphasis] His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

Huffington Post:

“Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? You know they would probably say, ‘Oh yeah, you know, it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded. It was really — 24 is the accurate number,” he added. “And we’re sorry, that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that we beheaded because it got misclassified in the system as Christian.’ I mean, that would be the VA in charge of ISIS.”

In response, one of the show hosts said, “I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there.”

Talking Points Memo also reporting on this story with more allegedly on the way. We’re honestly surprised that Coffman hasn’t backed down between Friday and today–a big mistake when a simple apology would end the controversy much sooner. Meanwhile, local liberal groups are piling on:

“Mike Coffman has a reputation going back decades in politics for making outrageous statements,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “There is no question that the VA faces challenges right now. As the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for Veterans Affairs, Coffman has known about the problems at the VA for years. But to compare the thousands of men and women at the Department of Veterans Affairs–the vast majority of whom are hard-working public servants dedicated to helping our nation’s veterans–to a vicious terrorist organization that has beheaded American citizens is simply outrageous.”

Original post follows.


This is a difficult post to write.

It is hard to find the correct words to explain Congressman Mike Coffman’s sickening remarks on KOA radio this morning, in which he likened the U.S. Veterans Administration to ISIS and joked about beheadings. 

Coffman was a guest on “Colorado’s Morning News” on 850 KOA this morning, hosted by Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh. His radio appearance was a chance for Coffman to celebrate another punt from Congress, which will provide construction funding for the Aurora VA Hospital until October — the second short-term funding approval for the VA Hospital in the last month.

Remember, this is the same Mike Coffman who represents CD-6 — where the hospital is being built — and also serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Coffman is also an Army and Marine Corps veteran, which he’ll tell you even if you don’t ask, so he has absolutely no excuses for what he said this morning. The audio is below, and here’s a transcript:

MIKE COFFMAN: It’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under the VA’s leadership.

Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? They’d probably say, “Well, you know it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded – it was really 24…is the accurate number. We’re sorry that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that were beheaded because they got misclassified in the system as Christians.”

I mean, that would be the VA [chuckles]…that would be the VA in charge of ISIS. [Pols emphasis]

So, clearly we need to clean house. We need better leadership. The President needs to be engaged on this and other issues.

STEFFAN TUBBS: I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there…

APRIL ZESBAUGH: [laughing] He’s on a roll!

Of course, Coffman finishes his rant by demanding “better leadership” at the VA and from President Obama. He never explains why voters shouldn’t expect better leadership from him, since he’s supposed to be in charge of OVERSIGHT of the Veteran’s Administration.

There is no excuse for this. No defense. Instead of taking a leadership role himself — instead of trying to find a solution to the VA Hospital funding problems — Mike Coffman just continues to blame everybody else while making crude, horribly-inappropriate jokes comparing the United States Veterans Administration to the terrorist group ISIS.

Mike Coffman crossed the line this morning — BIG TIME. It would be an absolute disgrace for Colorado if this man is re-elected in 2016.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Half Glass Full says:

    Hey Coffman (and I won't use the honorific of some jerk who sees fit to compare VA employees to ISIS murderers): If you're the freakin' chair of the House VA Oversight Committee, was there even ANY single project bigger than this hospital that the VA was undertaking at the time you were the chair? I mean, wasn't this the biggest project you were supposed to be overseeing?

    VA employees aren't terrorist murderers. But you, sir, are a grade-A a**hole. 

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    This is really sick.

  3. DenverMom says:

    This is beyond tasteless.


  4. skeptical citizen says:

    Representative Morgan Carroll. I like it.

    Old Mike = New Mike = No Mike = ?Lobbyist Mike. He is toast in 2016.


  5. mamajama55 says:

    Something is seriously wrong with this man. He's got no filter.

    VA leadership may be incompetent, technologically backward, or even corrupt in some cases.  It doesn't make them anything like ISIS terrorists.

    The vast majority of VA employees who do direct patient care are some of the finest people you would ever want to meet. I expect to deal with them the next time I have to deal with getting my ex-hubby hospitalized, and I expect that they will do the utmost in their power to care for him and all the other vets. 

    I also expect Mike Coffman to do better in his apology to all VA employees than his last effort the last time he let his mouth run on auto:






    • BlueCat says:

      You may remember that despite this video he got reelected that year. We're preachin' to the choir here. 

      • mamajama55 says:

        Understood, BC – Got no parade to rain on. But this "choir" should be working very hard for Morgan Carroll, or whomever Coffman's opponent is, using this video, the "VA=ISIS" audio, and whatever other gaffes he generates between now and November 2016.

        We can take a page from the Rove playbook and attack Coffman on his strengths, i.e., his appeal as a military man and advocate for veterans, by playing this audio over and over. I can tell you that, as a family member of a veteran and admirer of the VA's work as the largest functional single-payer health entity, it is deeply offensive to veterans and those who care about veterans.

        • BlueCat says:

          Too bad the "we" who will be making these decisions are Dem political ops and they've been very squeamish about using Rovian jiu jitsu against R military men, no matter how regularly they vote against troops and vets in favor of the top .01%, because they're still afraid of the big bad patriotic righties labeling Dems as anti-God and Country terrorist coddling wimps who don't support the troops.  Meanwhile, Rs use it without a single pang of guilt against decorated amputee Dems. It's a problem. 

          • Wong21fr says:

            It would be nice if the Dems could actually find a veteran to challenge Coffman and cut him off at the ankles on the military service comparison.  It's not as if Coffman's service record is THAT stellar.  But no, asides from Joe Rice, I can't recall one rising Democratic star that has served.  Coffman might be an asshole and this VA/ISIS comparison is tasteless.  But he's also attacking an organization that even veteran's who enjoy the medical care they receive have a hard time supporting.  It's like shooting fish in a barrel


  6. FrankUnderwood says:

    Andrew Romanoff is probably muttering," I can't believe I lost to this smuck."

    • BlueCat says:

      More like Romanoff's volunteers must be muttering "I can't believe he ran such a lousy campaign against this schmuck."

      • Voyageur says:

        Politics is all about timing.   Romanoff is a fine man but you just weren't going to beat an incumbent Republican in an off year.  In 2016, when some Democrats will actually stop whining and vote, it could be a very different story.   

  7. notaskinnycook says:

    Like the Arapahoe D.A. playing with his phone rather than paying attention to a witness, let's make sure this comment dogs Coffman all the way to November of '16. Especially since it was recorded, so he can't claim he didn't say THAT.

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