CBS4 Political Reporter Shaun Boyd touched a nerve when she reported Jan. 27 that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) thinks many of the calls and emails he’s gotten lately have been from “paid protesters.”
Since Gardner’s first mention of his concerns about paid protesters, the Republican has returned to the topic at least three times in interviews.
Here’s a thematic breakdown of what he’s been saying about the paid protesters who are allegedly hounding him.
Craigslist. This is where Gardner says the paid-protester ads are being run.
“There is a certain element that’s paid through Craigslist. We’ve seen the advertisements,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle Clark Feb. 2.
Out-of-State. Gardner is careful to say that the protesters are not just “paid” but also not from here.
“What I worry about is a large proportion of people from out of state who are trying to flood and jam our airwaves, so-to-speak,” Gardner told Boyd Jan. 30
California and New York. These are the states Gardner thinks the paid protesters are from, but he hasn’t explained why he thinks these states are the culprits.
“There are certainly a number of people who are calling from out of state, California and New York. That’s happening,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle ClarK Feb. 2.
Robocalls. Gardner thinks computer-generated robocalls are part of the paid-protester problem.
Gardner’s staffers get “people who are surprised they even contacted the office because there’s a robocall of some kind that goes into their house and it connects them with the office and they didn’t even want to contact us in many cases and are surprised that they did,” Gardner told CBS4’s Boyd Jan. 30.
Paid telephone surveys. Gardner says paid protesters are tricking people with phone surveys.
“Just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office,” 7News Marc Stewart, Feb. 14. “And so that was clearly a paid effort. She was not paid to do that. Somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife.”
Paid protesters vs. legitimate concerns. Gardner emphasizes repeatedly that he wants to hear from real people, not fake protesters.
“What I worry about though, of course, is the paid protesters from out of state who are crowding out those Colorado voices,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle ClarK Feb. 2. “That’s a big concern of mine. It’s a concern of my colleagues, when they can’t hear the voices of their constituents because paid activists from out of state are getting in the way.”
If you call U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) DC phone line today, you get a recording encouraging callers to leave a message only if you’re calling “after hours.”
“Hi, this is Cory Gardner,” states the phone message, “your senator from the great state of Colorado. Thanks for calling my Washington DC office. If you’ve reached us after hours, please feel free to leave a message.”
Gardner may be thinking that during business hours the only people calling him are “paid protesters.” And he doesn’t want them leaving messages. Hence, he only wants messages “after hours.”
And regardless of what time it is, don’t leave a message for Gardner if you’re from California or New York, if you’ve been recruited on Craigslist, if you’ve been tricked by a survey or a robocall, or if you’re the paid “element” that’s bugging Gardner. He doesn’t want to hear from you.