The spotlight of shame among GOP House members is a lurid glare. Today it shines upon four men representing the state of Colorado:
- Scott Tipton, CO-R, 3rd District
- Cory Gardner, CO-R, 4th District
- Doug Lamborn, CO-R, 5th District
- Mike Coffman, CO-R, 6th District
These four were among the 179 Republicans who voted No on H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which funds federal support for those Americans devastated by natural disasters. The bill, which passed the House and Senate after excruciating delay, gave immediate relief to the victims of Super Storm Sandy.
Now, as Colorado is inundated with flood waters, these four Republicans are clamoring for the very same federal assistance which they denied to their state and the rest of the nation just nine months ago.
Who are these shameful hypocrites?
Scott Tipton is a second-term House member first voted into office in 2010. He is listed as a rank-and-file Republican according to GovTrack‘s analysis of bill sponsorship. He sits on three committees: Small Business, Agriculture and Natural Resources. This year, he has sponsored several bills ranging from control of wildfires and invasive beetles to education of Native Americans and a planned national energy program. None has made it to the House floor for a vote. More recently, in voting for the CR to fund the government, Tipton stated that “I’m committed to voting to stop Obamacare any way I can, and replacing it with a patient-centered solution.”
According to his official biography, Tipton was the first person in his family to acquire a college degree. He graduated from Fort Lewis College, a four-year liberal arts school, with a degree in Political Science. Prior to entering public life, he ran the Mesa Verde Indian Pottery in Cortez with his brother. Tipton entered politics in the 1990s and chaired the Montezuma County Republican party before being elected to the state house in 2008. In his first run for his House seat, Tipton campaigned against the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Cory Gardner is another mainline Republican, according to GovTrack, though Gardner bills himself as a “conservative” on his official House page. He is a native Coloradoan, a lawyer and former state legislator who is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Gardner has sponsored several bills including one that gives committee members the ability to eliminate federal agencies they consider “duplicative” and another which eliminates the “financial responsibility” requirement of vessels hauling hazardous material. This second bill likely is connected to Gardner’s staunch support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would originate in Alberta Canada and traverse six U.S. states carrying tar sands oil, labeled as one of the dirtiest fuels, and which has a high probability of spillage, among its numerous other environmentally hostile effects.
Gardner voted No on the Disaster Relief Appropriations bill but a day after viewing the flooded areas in his district, issued a press release calling for “substantial resources, and assistance from the federal government.” Apparently, he now sees the value in the bill that he so blithely denied to other victims of natural disaster. On September 20, Gardner appeared on the House floor to ask that his state receive federal funding under the same law he previously rejected.
As an interesting note, Gardner attached an amendment to the Disaster Relief bill to bring funds to Coloradoans affected by wildfires. His amendment never made it out of committee. Apparently, Gardner’s No vote on the House bill was a small-minded retaliation for not having his amendment considered.
Gardner also recently opined on the ACA, noting that he was “blindsided” when receiving notice that his personal insurance would be discontinued by the end of the year. It’s difficult to imagine that a member of Congress would be so ignorant (“blindsided”) of the effects of the ACA, unless such member simply did not read the bill before voting on it. Gardner bemoaned the “difficult and time-consuming process” of choosing health insurance, an activity that most adults have experienced without trauma. He also noted that premiums would increase between 23 and 25 percent but failed to document the source of these figures. All in all, a letter intended as a scare-mongering tool.
Doug Lamborn, representing Colorado’s 5th district, is labeled a “far right” Republican (read: Tea Party) by GovTrack. Lamborn sits on three House committees: Natural Resources, Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs. He’s sponsored a number of bills that have never made it out of committee, including one to defund NPR, another to prohibit the debt ceiling, and a third to “prohibit Federal education funding for elementary or secondary schools that provide access to emergency postcoital contraception.” With this disturbing bill, given the grossly deceptive title “Schoolchildren’s Health Protection Act,” Lamborn has asserted that raped minors must bear the child of their rapist. He also outraged the country in 2011 when he used the term “tar baby” in the same breath as mention of Pres. Obama.
Lamborn, who lives in Colorado Springs, was first elected to the House in 2006. He touts himself as “pro family” and is proud to have been voted the “most conservative member of Congress” for several years running. He has urged a government shutdown over funding of Obamacare, even though this would have no impact on the ACA. Lamborn makes use of social media with accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, where he collects his CSPAN video spots.
Mike Coffman is appointed to three House committees: Veterans’ Affairs, Small Business and Armed Services, and has sponsored a bill related to the administration of small businesses owned by disabled vets and another that requires VA medical facilities to report cases of infectious diseases. While these bills sound innocuous, Coffman has earned the label of “far right” Republican by GovTrack. His STOMP (Sequestration Tied to Member Pay) bill would reduce the yearly pay of Congressional members in tandem with the pay loss of furloughed federal workers. However, his stance on the 2nd Amendment is sensible, calling for responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms “out of the hands” of criminals and the “mentally unstable.” If anything, some of his stands on national and international issues are somewhat simplistic with calls for reform rather than extremist revision.
However, he has come under fire as a science-denier by the League of Conservation Voters, which released a major TV assault on Coffman for denying the reality of climate change and for attempting to strip the EPA of its environmental muscle.
Coffman, a veteran who served in Iraq and the Gulf War, devotes much of his House attention to legislation affecting veterans. In February of this year, he suggested military service as a path toward citizenship for certain groups of immigrants. Coffman earned his high school diploma while serving in the armed forces and his college degree through the GI Bill.