This about sums up what Mike Coffman did to Mark Hillman in 2005-06.
Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made national news last week after he picked a fight with Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald during testimony in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Mad Mike's antics were called out by the hometown Aurora Sentinel, saying "blasting the incoming secretary 6 months into his job and turning the argument into a petty political platform is bunk."
If the Sentinel thought Mad Mike's actions last week were "bunk," we can only imagine the response to Coffman's fundraising email yesterday. Coffman's campaign brazenly keeps the story alive and tries to make McDonald look like the bad guy while encouraging donors to give money to his campaign. Before we delve into that fundraising email, however, let's return to the scene of the crime to recap the order of events from last Thursday:
Rep. Coffman: This is a department mired in beaurocratic incompetence and corruption. And I've gotta tell you, I think the pubic relations is great today. But there's no substance. There is…no…substance…
Sec. McDonald: I'm highly offended by your comments, Mr. Coffman…
Rep. Coffman: [Holds up a hand and says, "Let me finish..."] I fundamentally believe, that as unfortunate as it is, that at the end of the day — at the end of this President's term — that you will not have made a difference in changing the culture of this organization [Pols emphasis]…by virtue of the fact that you continue to gloss over its problems.
Sec. McDonald: I am offended by your comment. Actually, I've been here 6 months. You've been here longer than I have. If there's a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.
(Click here to see the video or read the rest of the transcript)
As you can plainly see above, Mad Mike picked this fight by telling the VA Secretary that he "will not have made a difference" in changing the culture at the VA. McDonald was a guest on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, where he declined to swipe at Coffman, while Mad Mike's campaign was busy trying to spin this spat into dollars. The message coming out of Coffman's campaign continues to be that Mad Mike is a military veteran and therefore you can't attack him for anything, ever.
This doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons, including the fact that McDonald himself is a former Army Ranger, but the message also illustrates Coffman's erratic nature and his willingness to step on anybody in order to get ahead politically. Ironically enough, Coffman's fundraising plea only exaggerates that point by playing off the McDonald line, "I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?" Take a look at this section from a fundraising email sent by Coffman's Congressional campaign and signed by "Mort Marks, WWII Veteran."
What has Mike Coffman done?
Besides being the only Member of Congress to serve in both Iraq wars, Mike has been a national leader on veterans issues, fighting to fix the broken VA long before the national media woke up to the VA's troubles.
He has served our nation in uniform, even resigning the Treasurer's office to serve in Iraq in 2005 [Pols emphasis], and he has continued that fight back home for the men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedom.
To hear Secretary McDonald ask Mike Coffman "What have you done?" is enough to make my blood boil.
[INSERT SOUND OF BRAKES SQUEALING]
Hold on, there — are you sure that you want to bring up 2005? Do you really want to use this as an example of "What Mike Coffman Has Done"?
See, Mike Coffman did not exactly "resign the Treasurer's office" to serve in Iraq. Mad Mike took a leave of absence from his job as State Treasurer and continued that job when he returned to Colorado in March 2006 (Team Coffman called it "an unpaid military leave of absence" in Aug. 2005 while seeking to make it clear that Coffman would run for Secretary of State in 2006). Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman was appointed "Acting State Treasurer," but he had to resign from the State Senate in order to accept the post. This sequence of events also moved Greg Brophy into Hillman's Senate seat and saw a GOP vacancy committee select Cory Gardner to replace Brophy in the State House.
When Coffman returned to Colorado in March 2006, Acting Treasurer Hillman was forced to resign (though Coffman hired Hillman for a part-time job in the Treasurer's office. Yay!). More importantly, Hillman could no longer campaign for his own term as State Treasurer with the benefit of being the current office holder. Many Republicans still believe that Coffman's re-appearing act probably cost Hillman the Treasurer's race in 2006 (Democrat Cary Kennedy was elected instead). For his part, Coffman went on to defeat Democrat Ken Gordon for Secretary of State; two years later, Coffman resigned as SOS after winning his current Congressional seat in CD-6.
Volunteering to serve in Iraq is certainly laudable, but as we said before, being a military veteran does not give Coffman carte blanche to be an asshole. There is no honor in Coffman's bullying treatment of VA Secretary McDonald, but Mad Mike just makes things worse by using his political stunt to raise money while also stretching the truth about "resigning" as State Treasurer in order to serve in Iraq. The only person who ever seems to benefit from Mad Mike's hot temper is the Congressman himself.