Veterans and Jason Crow supporters stood outside Rep. Mike Coffman’s office building in Aurora to protest a super PAC ad questioning Crow’s record of the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs.
On Aug. 27, 40 supporters of 6th Congressional District candidate Jason Crow, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star, gathered outside Rep. Mike Coffman’s Aurora office building to protest Coffman’s failure to disavow an ad by the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) running on local media, which says, “Jason Crow didn’t show up for work, skipping a third of the board’s meetings, neglecting veterans,” referring to the Colorado Board of Veteran’s Affairs, on which Crow served from 2009-2014. The ad goes on, “It was Crow’s job to advocate for veterans, but Crow failed Colorado veterans, and they suffered because of mismanagement at the VA.” CLF describes itself as “a super PAC exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.” The ad states that it is “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
The gathering included at least a dozen military veterans, along with Crow supporters wearing campaign t-shirts. Greenwood Village resident and active Democrat Bernie Rogoff, 88, was the first to speak, followed by three other disabled veterans. None accused Coffman of not caring about veterans. They said he hadn’t done enough to help them. They believe that Crow would do more.
The Villager spoke to eight-year U.S. Navy veteran Christopher Savin, who said he lived in Denver and took public transportation to come to the protest. Savin said he had supported Coffman until a year ago, but that he has known Crow, “for several years and he always puts veterans first.” He said, “I don’t fault Coffman for not standing up for veterans, but he hasn’t stood up to [President] Trump. We need a congressman that represents us like [the late Sen. John] McCain did and stands up for the values of this country.” Vietnam veteran Artie Guerrero said, “Mike Coffman has endorsed the administration 96 percent of the time.”
Travis Weiner said he was an Iraq veteran who attended C.U.’s law school and worked on veterans’ issues in the criminal justice system in the Boulder district attorney’s office. He said he met Crow six months ago and that Crow has never questioned Coffman’s concern for vets, but that Coffman is wrong not to “disavow the dishonorable, misleading (CLF) ad.” Weiner went on to say that he doesn’t think that the Coffman-sponsored, “Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act,” passed by the Senate Aug. 23, accomplishes what it says it does.
Mitch Schwartz, communications director for the Crow campaign, said that Jason Crow was not at the protest because he was not invited. In response to the accusation in the ad about attendance at Colorado Board of Veteran’s Affairs meetings, Schwartz said that Crow had only three unexcused absences in five years and that board chair Ralph Bozella had described Crow as an “extraordinary member of the board.”
Coffman campaign manager Tyler Sandberg responded to the demand that Coffman disavow the super PAC ad.
He said, “Mike Coffman is a Marine who was deployed overseas five times. But here’s the thing – his service to America and his fellow veterans didn’t stop when he came home. It was only just beginning. Jason Crow served his country honorably overseas, but his record on veterans’ issues is deeply revealing. He skipped meetings at a time of crisis for veterans. He put his political party first when he took to the stage of the Democratic National Convention and praised the Obama administration’s handling of veterans’ issues while tens of thousands of veterans languished on secret medical waiting lists. And in between representing corporate con men who ripped off schools, hospitals and employee pensions, Jason Crow was the criminal defense lawyer for a crook who literally ripped off the Veterans Administration, and the men and women it serves, to the tune of millions of dollars. Does Jason Crow think his record is not fair game?”
Sandberg also said that a report in the Aug. 23 Villager that Coffman had accepted a $2,000 donation from Trump was inaccurate. He said, “It is not true that Mike Coffman has accepted any money from Trump.”
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