Decoding Mike Coffman on Immigration Reform

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still image from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Those who taketh many positions, maketh many confused.      — Colorado Pols

The image at right of Rep. Mike Coffman touting the “support” of Planned Parenthood in 2014 resurfaced in September after Coffman voted in favor of a bill to cut federal funding from the organization. To the unfamiliar, this was a prime example of the kind of doublespeak that seems to fill many politicians these days. But to those who have followed Coffman’s career, what happened next was oddly…perfect. Responding to inquiries from 9News about the apparent hypocrisy from Coffman, his spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, dropped one of the all-time classic bad political quotes:

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Watson in an email to 9NEWS.

This really is a terrible response from a political spokesperson, but the response really encapsulates Coffman’s political career in a nutshell: Mike Coffman will say pretty much anything on a sensitive policy issue, regardless of whether it matches up with previous comments, votes, or legislation on said issue. We saw this again on Wednesday, when journalist and media critic Jason Salzman wrote a brief story about Coffman’s ever-evolving position on illegal immigration, pointing out that Coffman does not support the dual pathways to citizenship as outlined in the DREAM Act:

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

After this story went up on Colorado Pols, Coffman’s campaign manager/spokesman/overseer Tyler Sandberg took to Twitter to call out Salzman for missing something in Coffman’s immigration thinking. Salzman responded with an update on The Big Media Blog, essentially pointing out that Coffman has said many different things about many different issues — statements that don’t always end up being reflected in Coffman’s voting record.

The truth is, you can find a lot of things with the “Google button,” but a clear position on illegal immigration from Mike Coffman is not one of them. For example, take a look at how Coffman’s position on “comprehensive reform” flips 180 degrees in a 9-month period:

CoffmanHead-12

July 22, 2013

Comprehensive immigration reform is good. The Denver Post prints Op-Ed from Coffman calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.” When does he want it? “Now,” says Coffman.

 

 

CoffmanHead-3

January 17, 2014

In an email to the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman says he “supports” a path to citizenship for college education, but offers his military service for citizenship bill as an alternative to the DREAM Act.

 

CoffmanHead-6

April 28, 2014

Comprehensive immigration reform is bad. Coffman tells the Aurora Sentinel that he supports a “step-by-step” approach, which is the exact opposite of the position he laid out in the Denver Post nine months earlier. Coffman also reiterates that he opposes the bill that passed the Senate; and claims to support Obama’s DACA program for DREAMers, but not the way it was implemented. No mention is given to citizenship through education.

 

 

By May 21, 2014, all mention of “comprehensive immigration reform” is scrubbed from Coffman’s official Congressional website. It’s almost as if Coffman never actually supported “comprehensive immigration reform,” except that, well, he did. When Coffman staffer Tyler Sandberg says that his boss supports a “higher ed or military path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, what does that mean? In Coffman’s carefully-choreographed dance on immigration policy, it could mean just about anything. Coffman has talked before about a “higher ed” option, but he has only ever given support to a “military path.”

Sandberg is walking a thin line here by indicating that prior statements from Coffman are equivalent to actual positions on issues; you can see from the “comprehensive reform” switcheroo above that Coffman’s statements don’t often have a very long shelf life of support from the man himself. Mike Coffman owes it to his constituents to present a clear platform on big issues such as illegal immigration — not the other way around. Even if you were aware of every comment that Coffman has ever made on potential immigration policy, you still couldn’t put together a workable platform; there are too many examples of Coffman flat-out contradicting himself.

One Community Comment, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    This is valuable information. The only problem is that reporters are simply giving Coffman a pass for flip-flopping at this point, not holding him accountable. He's being allowed to get away with lip service changes that his votes don't support.

    That may be the real danger, that he can say whatever he wants and reporters just don't care. They're too lazy to report anything besides what he says today.

    I hope I'm wrong about this.

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