Gardner’s awkward scheduling priorities

During the government shutdown last August, two weeks after the heavens opened up and turned north-eastern Colorado into a national disaster flood zone, Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner met with Karl Rove and big-money GOP donors to hobnob.

As KDVR’s Eli Stokols reported last week, Ken Vogel recalls the ill-timed Gardner meeting in “Big Money,” a new book on contemporary campaign finance.

Rove, according to Vogel, didn’t expect many prominent politicians to attend the event, given the timing. He thought “it would look pretty bad for any Republican to be caught schmoozing big donors at the very moment the party’s congressional contingent was being blamed for an unpopular stalemate causing real pain for regular Americans.”

And yet:

“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.”

One of the men was Gardner. The other was Sean Duffy a Republican from Wisconsin.

The story recalls Gardner’s attendance at a fundraiser hosted for him by British Petroleum in June 2010. The swank event at the “boutique Hotel George” made national headlines, coming as it did during the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The gusher was still spewing crude into the Gulf as Gardner was meeting with the company’s lobbyists. Meantime, other members of Congress were hauling BP executives before committees to explain themselves, and the public tuned into those committees was up in arms that BP and its contractors had taken shortcuts that lead to the disaster.

As the Huffington Post put it at the time: “In the wake of the greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, even the appearance of sympathy for BP has been seen as potentially career-threatening. That, however, isn’t stopping Colorado congressional candidate Cory Gardner from accepting money raised by the disgraced oil giant’s lobbyists.”

Gardner’s ties to the oil-and-gas industry are well documented. He has made campaign-finance history for taking far and away the most money from oil and gas than any previous holder of his District Four seat.