A campaign lawyer wants this TV ad tying Mike Coffman to Trump pulled in Colorado

Mike Licht

If you want to know just how bad Donald Trump is for some down-ballot Republicans running for Congress, take a look at what’s happening in Colorado.

A lawyer for the re-election campaign of GOP Congressman Mike Coffman has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a local TV station that’s airing an ad saying Coffman “stands with Donald Trump and will support Trump for President.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid for the ad in hopes of boosting Coffman’s Democratic rival Morgan Carroll.

Coffman campaign attorney Jonathan Anderson of the law firm Holland & Hart says the statement in the ad is false, calling it an “illegal advertisement” that runs afoul of Colorado law. The TV ad is airing on KMGH-TV, the ABC affiliate in Denver.

From Anderson’s Oct. 10 letter:

Congressman Mike Coffman has consistently stated that he does not support Donald Trump for President. In fact, Congressman Coffman has received public attention as a prominent member of Congress who has consistently refused to support Donald Trump for President, including for the following public statements: “For the good of the country, and to give the Republicans a chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump should step aside. His defeat at this point seems almost certain and four years of Hillary Clinton is not what is best for this country” (The Denver Post, October 7, 2016); “Trump has a long way to go to earn my vote” (The Denver Post, July 21, 2016); and ”Donald Trump has not earned my support” (7News Denver, Interview with Marshall Zelinger, on Aug 4, 2016). The organization PolitiFact has analyzed this issue and found that “Rep. Coffman has not endorsed or voiced support for Donald Trump.”

“In the heart of a political season, states like Colorado are showered with political half-truths and embellishments. This is different,” the letter continues. “This is a Washington, DC, organization that is spending $144 million this election cycle placing a patently false advertisement on television.”

Anderson points to this Colorado law about making false statements in elections:

“No person shall knowingly make, publish, broadcast, or circulate or cause to be made, published, broadcasted, or circulated in any letter, circular, advertisement, or poster or in any other communication any false statement designed to affect the vote on any issue submitted to the electors at any election or relating to any candidate for election to public office.”

It should be noted that campaign ads by the Coffman campaign and its supporters have failed multiple fact checks from news outlets throughout the race.

In one ad, Coffman — falsely, according to PolitFact — said Carroll voted to make it “easier to sue” doctors, small businesses and nurses. 9News in Denver said Coffman was “distorting Carroll’s votes.” PolitiFact reported a National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee ad claiming Carroll “racked up $11 billion in new spending” is misleading.

Asked to address those ads, Anderson did not immediately respond. 

Tyler Law, a spokesman for the DCCC, defended the TV ad in the Coffman campaign’s crosshairs.

“It doesn’t get more politically craven and desperate than Mike Coffman waiting until the last minute to decide Donald Trump is not fit to be President— especially when Coffman still lacks the courage to tell us who he is supporting,” he said in a statement calling the timing of the letter “an admission that Mike Coffman had been supporting Trump all along.”

The latest Trump shockwave to rock the Republican Party has rattled down the ballot since Friday when recorded comments Trump made in 2005 about groping women without their consent hit the news stream and sent GOP elected officials and candidates scattering.

“House Republicans, who should be able to hold onto their majority, are now concerned that Trump’s toxicity could shrink their margin significantly in that chamber too,” reports Bloomberg News.

Here in Colorado, Coffman was the first Republican in Congress to distance himself from Trump in a TV ad. “Honestly, I don’t care for him much,” Coffman said in the ad, promising to “stand up” to Trump if he becomes president. Democrats, however, hounded him to say whether or not he would still vote for Trump when he got his ballot. On Friday, after the latest Trump recordings became public, Coffman put out a statement saying Trump should step aside.

KMGH general manager Brad Remington did not respond to an e-mail by the time this story was posted.

Photo by Mike Licht for Creative Commons on Flickr.