• Town Hall Meeting WITHout Cory Gardner Recap

    Last Tuesday, on February 21st, the IndivisibleNOCO group hosted a town hall meeting centered on the notably absent Senator Cory Gardner.  Despite the gathering of thousands of people protesting his absence within the last two months, the Senator has continuously refused to schedule a face-to-face meeting with his constituents.

    In response to the Senators absence and refusals, the Town Hall Meeting WITHout Cory Gardner was organized with the goal of sparking thoughtful dialogue and encourage Colorado citizens to more forward with the civil and respectful exchange of ideas by presenting constituent submitted questions with a postulated response based on Gardner’s general platform or by statements released by Gardner’s office as well as a counter-response offered by “progressive” Fort Collins constituents.

    Immigration

    Will you support the BRIDGE Act as part of a comprehensive immigration reform solution? If not, what do you see as a viable and humane solution?

    The BRIDGE Act is an acronym for “Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream of Growing Our Economy” and is a bipartisan proposal that would allow eligible individuals to receive work authorization and temporary relief from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  With the suspension of deportation, these people may continue to live within the United States.

    Answer: Senator Gardner has stated that he did not want to give amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or give those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.  His platform will only support legislation that ensures that employers hire only people who are here legally.

    Progressive Talking Points: Many labor economists agree that the economy relies on low-skill migrant workers and that there are national net gains from a larger labor supply. It is a myth that undocumented immigrants “drain the system”, rather it is estimated that they contributed $11.64 billion in state and local taxes last year (http://www.itep.org/immigration/).

    The EPA and the Environment

    How do you propose to maintain clean water, clean air, wildlife, and natural areas that are important to Coloradoans with the current Republican agenda to dismantle or lessen the regulations that have been key in improving Colorado’s air quality, water quality, and native landscapes?

    Answer: Cory Gardner believes that the Environmental Protection Agency has placed an unnecessary regulatory burden on the government.  He believes that supporting fossil fuel production on federal land is essential for holding public office.  As a secondary point, Gardner has said that the EPA walked away from the promises made regarding the Gold Kind Mine spill and that the current Republican senate EPA nomination Scott Pruitt “understands the importance of protecting the environment while also standing up to the overbearing federal regulations”, including the Waters of the United States Rule.

    The Gold King Mine spill occurred in 2015 in Silverton, Colorado when the actions of EPA personnel resulted in the release of toxic wastewater into the Animas River watershed.  

    Progressive Talking Points: There is no evidence to support claim that environmental regulations impede economic growth.  Scott Pruitt is unqualified to head EPA and has strong ties to the oil and gas industry.   Scott Pruitt has filed suites against the EPA 13 times and sent letters drafted by oil and gas lobbyists on state stationary.

    While oil and gas lobbyist have greater ties to the government, renewable energy encourages innovation and the creation of new jobs and job markets for generations to come.  There are more jobs in solar energy that in the extraction of oil, coal and gas combined.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-solar-power-employs-more-people-more-oil-coal-gas-combined-donald-trump-green-energy-fossil-fuels-a7541971.html

    Within Colorado, sixty-two thousand workers are employed in the renewable energy sector.  In the past year, the 16 renewable energy facilities in Colorado paid more $7 million in property taxes.

    Education

    In Ms. DeVos’ confirmation hearing, you stated you will be watching her performance. In letters, you said she pledged to you that she would be an advocate for public schools and teachers. You said Congress will hold her accountable and make sure she lives up to the commitment she made to you.

    How will you ensure her advocacy for CO students? Should Congress find that DV is filing in her promise, what measures can and will be taken when you’ve given her your vote, despite huge opposition.

     This question was submitted by one of Cory Gardner’s prior teachers.

    Answer: Cory Gardner believes Ms. DeVos will “fight for public education” and that she will reduce the federal role in education and return authority to states and local community’s.  Both Gardner and DeVos support withholding money from states that do not comply with an education voucher program.

    Click here for further information on voucher programs.

    Progressive Talking Points: (Given by a Fort Collins school teacher) DeVos was never a supporter of public education and rather supports charter school and voucher system programs like those she instigated in Michigan.  Though many agree that these systems have failed, DeVos has said that she “learned nothing” from their implementation and subsequent problems.

    DeVos has publically stated that she intends to reform schools to advance “God’s Kingdom”.   She herself did not attend or send her children to public school; she does not understand basic tenants of public education, including the People with Disabilities act.  DeVos intends to dismantle our public education system and replace it with programs like those highly criticized in Michigan.

    The appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

    Given Sessions’ track record, on what did you base your statement that Mr. Sessions has a commitment to upholding the rule of law despite his dismissal of sexual assault as a problem and despite his own lies regarding his record of prosecution of civil liberties cases? Please provide specific examples of where he has defended civil liberties. Additionally, please provide specific examples of his strong record of bipartisanship given that he voted to silence a fellow Senator.

    Answer: In response to silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren, Cory Gardner responded that she was trying to slow down and hinder the cabinet confirmation process and that this “slowdown” in cabinet confirmation was unprecedented.  He follows that “Mr. Sessions has impressive legal career and a profound commitment to upholding the rule of law.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with him in the Senate and witness firsthand his strong record of bipartisanship.  I’m confident in his ability to serve as the chief law enforcement officer in the country.”

    You can read Gardner’s full statement here.

    Progressive Talking Points: The Democrats were not trying to slow down cabinet proceedings, they were trying to stop the nomination of a man who is unfit for role of United States Attorney General.  Elizabeth Warren was not imputing anything false to Sessions.  McConnel’s silencing of Warren for citing a civil rights hero (**Referring to the letter written by Coretta Scott King) was a blatant display of sexism and hypocrisy given that her male colleagues were allowed to speak the very same words without objection.  Such a silencing has not been invoked since 1902.

    In the words of Representative Lois Gutierrez, “If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man.”

    On President Trump’s ties to Russia

    Will you support appointment of Select Committee, an independent bipartisan commission (**investigation separate from FBI investigation), or a special prosecutor with no White House ties to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and ALL connections between Russia and Trump Administration?

    Will you speak out against Trump’s repeated misdirection of blame for mistakes made by his administration? Blaming the intelligence community and media for wrong doings of on of his staff members is a dangerous precedent, as well as behavior unbecoming of a leader.

    Answer: Senator Gardner would like to wait for the results of the FBI investigation to determine route of possible further investigation into Flynn.

    Michael Flynn resigned as national security advisor on Monday, February 13th, after reported leaks to a Russian ambassador.

    Senator Gardner has shared Senator John McCain’s sentiments said that focusing on Michael Flynn’s resignation takes focus away from other top issues, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare

    Progressive Talking Points: (Presented by a former military member active during Cold War) Congress has an implied constitutional duty to investigate the Trump campaign and administrative ties to Russia, by holding hearings and appointing an independent commission.  The House, as well as Trump, is more interested in investigating the leaks than in investigating possibility of illegal contacts or Russian influence within the administration.  The Senate is best hope for complete, non-partisan investigation and should be conducted by a select committee, independent bipartisan commission, or special prosecutor.

    Conflicts of Interest

    In early 2016 Trump told the Huffington Post not worried about a future dictator when “we already have a lawless leader” referring to Obama’s lawful executive orders issued toward end of presidency. We agree a President should abide with the law.  Given President Trump’s long list of conflicts of interest, why are you silent on releasing Trumps tax returns?

    Answer: Cory Gardner has remained silent on the issue.  But if he were to respond, a presumed answer might include that President Trump has separated himself from businesses, put children in charge and says he won’t speak to then about business issues and that only the media, and not the public is interested.  The house should only use its power to ensure that tax laws admin properly, not to investigate the president

    Progressive Talking Points: The American people have a right to know if the President is acting lawfully and has the best interest of the country rather than personal financial gain in mind.  It is a lie that only media cares.  In a survey, 74% of Americans, including 53% of Republicans believe he should release his tax returns.

    What comes next?

    Today at 10 am 9:30am (the time has been changed as of the morning of the event) Gardner will hold a Telephone Town Hall.  If you are interested in participating and asking your own questions, go to https://www.gardner.senate.gov to sign up.  If signup has already closed, you can still listen to a live broadcast of the meeting as it occurs.  Make your voice heard Colorado.  It is the job of our Senators to hear and to represent us!  Tell Cory Gardner NO MORE HIDING…