Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is bragging a lot these days about, as his campaign website puts it, having “had eight bills signed into law, more than the current Colorado delegation combined.”
Even if you’re the laziest of journalists, you can look up eight laws, right? So I had no excuse.
It turns out two of Gardner’s laws (25% of the total) rename buildings.
Two more (an additional 25%) mandate reports from federal agencies.
One Gardner law aims to help a foreign country (Taiwan) “observe” international meetings.
Why would Gardner, a Republican, draw our attention to such weak stuff?
Gardner is trying to “show he is effective,” said Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, in an email to the Colorado Times Recorder, adding that, “being effective is a good thing for a senator. Especially if you have to run with Donald Trump.”
“Of course, there are many ways for a senator to be effective–through amendments (I don’t see any) oversight (none, despite the corruption and mismanagement of the administration) constituent service (you tell me),” wrote Ornstein. “And it is hard to stand out in an era where little is done. But Gardner for the past 3-1/2 years has been a loyal foot soldier in the Trump army, voting for every nominee, no matter how unqualified or corrupt, voting to blow up the Affordable Care Act with no replacement, enabling a racist and nativist president without criticism.”
In a tweet responding to this article after it was posted, Kyle Kohli wrote that I was “in effect” calling myself the laziest of journalists for reporting that one of Gardner’s laws, the Taipei Act, which encourages the State Department to help Taipei gain observer status at international meetings, was “weak stuff.”
He cited the Communist Party’s objection to the law and pointed out that Colorado received masks from Taiwan after the law was passed, implying that Gardner’s Taiwan connections helped Colorado too.
In fact, while the Taipei Act is certainly not a major piece of legislation, it had some impact, similar to a minor diplomatic initiative. So I tweeted to Kholi that his point was fair.
Still, what’s surprising is that Gardner would specify a precise number of laws (eight), including some that invite mockery (naming buildings) instead of simply focusing on the three more substantive laws on his list, which provide money 1) for Colorado’s Veterans hospital and 2) for U.S. interests in Southeast Asia and 3) for modernizing operations at federal scientific agencies. (And he could spotlight his Great American Outdoors Act, (GAOA) providing ongoing funding for public lands, which is coming, but not yet signed into law.)
And Kohli did not respond via Twitter when I asked him if he agrees with me that Gardner’s laws to rename buildings are weak. And why are those on a list that’s supposed to prove Gardner is effective?
A call to Gardner’s office seeking to understand why he’d invite scrutiny of such flabby material was not immediately returned.
But the answer is probably as simple as: It sounds good to say you’ve had more bills signed into law than all of Colorado’s Washington lawmakers combined–instead of pointing to a few laws you passed.
And it works! See this paragraph from Colorado Springs Gazette editorial June 18:
“Senators do not get better than Gardner,” editorialized the Gazette. “The Senate passed his Great Outdoors Act on Wednesday, which was the 10th major piece of legislation passed into law at Gardner’s insistence and sponsorship. All other eight members of Colorado’s Washington delegation combined have not passed that many laws in the past six years.”
See what I mean? Even one of the state’s biggest newspapers was fooled.
Tenth “major piece of legislation?” That’s not just hype. It’s a falsehood. I’ll be watching for a correction from the Gazette,
Let’s hope voters see through this amateur manipulation.
UPDATE: This article was updated with info about the GAOA.