Cory Gardner is at it again. Trying to put a glossy polish on a fake concession and sell it as a hard-earned victory for Coloradans.
First, there were the ventilators. Gardner was thrilled to talk about his hard-fought effort to secure 100 ventilators for Colorado, until we learned he let the Trump administration redirect 400 others that were supposed to come to our state.
This time, it’s the environment. Cory Gardner is on a media tour, from The New York Times to The Denver Post, touting how hard he fought for a promise to get a vote to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) later this summer. Here’s the thing: the Senate had already agreed to vote on it. Gardner got these same headlines about this promise to get a vote soon on March 4!
The only thing Gardner really seems to be working on here is how to rebrand his environmental record in the Senate — and desperately cover up his tight relationship with Mitch McConnell — before November.
This is the same Cory Gardner who previously voted to cut the LWCF by 90%.
It is the same Cory Gardner who still refuses to support the CORE Act, sponsored by Colorado’s own U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse to protect our water, wildlife and natural habitats.
And yes, it is the same Cory Gardner who has taken $ 1.6 million from big oil to fund his campaigns, and voted to allow corporate polluters to drill and develop on Colorado’s public lands.
What Gardner is selling is a hollow victory — he is bragging about a potential future vote on a bill that Trump already said he would sign in early March.
Why does this matter? It’s just optics, right? It matters because of what Gardner gave up on our behalf to get absolutely nothing in return.
Gardner gave up federal relief for our state to make sure we can keep hospital workers going during a pandemic.
He gave up stimulus money for our cities to make sure we can keep teachers and firefighters on the job.
And he gave up expanded unemployment so Coloradans out of work during the coronavirus pandemic can pay their rent and put groceries on the table.
On May 20, Cory Gardner promised to fight for coronavirus funding for Coloradans, calling the idea that anyone in the Senate would go on recess without passing additional relief “unfathomable.”
The very next day — literally May 21 — the Senate did exactly that, adjourning for vacation without passing relief funding and with no real plans to return. Gardner didn’t even stand up on the floor and try to make an impassioned speech. He didn’t use his political leverage to try to force McConnell to change his mind.
Instead, he walked away and immediately started the hunt for a shiny object to distract us from his cowardly retreat to McConnell. What did he find? A promise to pass a bill that he already had for months.
Meanwhile, in the over 30 days since — even as Gardner takes his victory lap — Colorado’s outdoors industry continues to be decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession. A survey from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable released this month found that 88% of businesses surveyed reported laying off or furloughing employees and 94% have seen decreased sales.
These businesses are core to who we are as a state. They deserve a senator — especially one who claims to care so much about our great outdoors — to fight hard for funding to keep them going.
Gardner told The New York Times: “This isn’t about me. I look at this as a huge accomplishment for Colorado.” He’s right, the Great American Outdoors Act is great for Colorado.
And he’s also right, it isn’t about him either. It’s always about McConnell and Trump.
Edie Hooton is the state representative for House District 10. She serves as the Majority Caucus Chair and the Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment.
The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to email@example.com.