Last night, Denver7 aired an interview with Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that touched on a variety of hot topics–the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government, as well as Gardner’s recent controversial remarks suggesting that citizens showing up at his offices in Colorado and flooding his voicemail boxes are “paid protesters.”
We’ve covered Gardner’s non-answers on the Flynn/Russia questions, but Gardner’s incredibly feeble attempt to defend these allegations of “paid protesters” is worth a note in the record all by itself:
On Tuesday, he addressed the insinuation he made last month that some people protesting him and calling his office were paid protesters. He clarified that he believes there are organizations that are working to connect politically-active people across the country with various lawmakers in Washington, citing a conversation his wife had with one organization.
“We have a number of Coloradans – a large percentage, if not a huge percentage of the people calling our office who are Coloradans. [They are] people who are concerned about nominations, people who are concerned about the price of their health care,” Gardner said.
“But we do have people from out of state calling the office. In fact, just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office.”
“She was not paid to do that, [Pols emphasis] but somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife,” Gardner said.
Understand this, folks: Cory Gardner was given a wide-open opportunity to defend his insistence that “paid protesters” are responsible for the demonstrations and flooded voicemail boxes at his offices. But the “example” Gardner cites is not a “paid protester” at all, but one of countless automated contact campaigns run by activist groups connecting ordinary (and unpaid) citizens with their elected officials. There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate about that kind of activity, and the contacts between citizens and lawmakers facilitated by these campaigns are as legitimate as any other.
Presumably, this would include Mrs. Gardner as well.
For a politician known for being cool under fire and ready with a slick answer to any question, Gardner’s justification in this interview for accusing the thousands of protesters converging every week outside his offices of being “paid” is an insult to everyone’s intelligence. Gardner’s out-of-hand dismissal of the growing dissent against the Trump administration in Colorado and nationwide spread widely, and was picked up by conservative mouthpieces here and elsewhere as a way of rationalizing what is happening.
Every American who heard Gardner’s original statement needs to know he can’t defend it.