Jason Crow answered questions for two hours. Citizens stood in line to ask questions. Sitting in the front row were Arapahoe County Commissioner Bill Holen and his wife, former Aurora City Council Member Debi Hunter Holen. Photo by Freda Miklin
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Aurora City Hall was the setting for Rep. Jason Crow’s first town hall meeting Jan. 31. Dr. Bobby Pace of Community College of Aurora moderated the event that drew 150 citizens who came from Highlands Ranch to Aurora. Crow arrived on time and eager to listen. He told the citizens that he would hold town halls quarterly because “The foundation of leadership is transparency and accountability.”
Crow told the audience that he has been appointed to the Armed Services and Small Business Committees of the House and that he joined a caucus called “Gun Violence Task Force.”
Citizens were allowed two minutes to speak and they made the most of it. “I do not believe in the president’s border wall,” Crow responded to the first question, explaining that he knew from his time in the army that it did not make sense. Asked whether the initial cost the president wants Congress to approve was a significant amount, given the size of the federal budget, Crow said, “Yes. Think about all the good things we can accomplish with $5 billion.”
Crow was most enthusiastic about having introduced his first bill, the End Dark Money Act. He said that the major issues of the day, gun violence, immigration reform, climate change, and health care are not being addressed as they should be because of the invisible corrupt influence of dark money on our system. He said that his bill will close the dark money loophole that allows mega-donors to exert their will by anonymous donations to campaigns through nonprofit organizations. According to campaign finance watchdog group, opensecrets.org, $6.5 billion in dark money was spent in the 2016 presidential-year election. That same group reports that $16.3 million in dark money was spent in Crow’s race this past November when he defeated former Rep. Mike Coffman to become the first Democrat elected from Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Of the $16.3 million, $10.5 million was spent on negative ads directed at both candidates. Crow said that eliminating dark money will return power back to the voters so Americans can have a true democracy again, allowing issues to be addressed honestly and transparently.
The freshman congressman related a recent experience he had on the Armed Services Committee, where he asked a military leader who was testifying about the deployment of troops on the southern border with Mexico. Crow said he wanted to know why active U.S. military members were sent there. He said he asked the question, “Who came up with the idea to deploy our soldiers to the southern border?” “The White House came up with the idea,” was the response he received. From that, he said he concluded that politics drove the decision, not security concerns.
Asked to identify areas where he believes the two major parties could come to a consensus decision, he named criminal justice reform as a success already achieved, for which he pointed out that Republicans deserved credit. He named infrastructure needs and the opioid crisis as issues that he believed could be addressed through consensus of both political parties.
A citizen asked Crow his position on the hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. He said that he believed it was time to begin to withdraw from both Syria and Afghanistan, but it was crucial that it be done slowly and carefully, so as to keep military personnel safe, as well as allies who have supported the U.S. in those regions, along with civilians of those countries.
An advocate for a woman’s right to choose asked Crow about his position. He said, “Reproductive rights are a moral imperative that allows a woman to determine her own destiny and exercise autonomy.”
The congressman described climate change as an existential crisis for our nation and for humanity. He cited immigration reform as an example of a national issue that is not likely to get solved until dark money is removed from the political system. He said he would not support making it mandatory for employers to use E-Verify to determine employees’ legal status until the immigration issue is addressed comprehensively.
Crow agreed with a citizen who was concerned about the national debt, adding that he would not support doing anything that would jeopardize our country’s creditworthiness. He pointed out that 84 percent of the financial benefit of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act went to corporations and that the Congress should look at that. Last April, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act will add $1.9 trillion to the national debt by 2028.
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