Why Would Cory Gardner Flip-Flop on Personhood?

We said it on Friday, and we'll say it again here: Republican Cory Gardner's unfathomable flip-flop over his support of "Personhood" may well prove to be the decisive event in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Dark sunglasses? Check. Flip-flops? Check.

In case you missed the news, Gardner told Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post on Friday that he no longer supports "Personhood," despite a long history of backing the extreme anti-abortion policy that would give full human rights to a fertilized egg. This is a monumental change of position on an issue that has ended the career of more than one Republican politician. As we explained on Friday:

In order to understand what a massive reversal this is for Gardner, you can watch the clip of a 2010 9NEWS CD-4 GOP primary debate (above), in which Gardner explains how he not only supported that year's Amendment 62, but actually circulated petitions to help the measure reach the ballot. As a state legislator in 2007, Gardner co-sponsored Senate Bill 07-143--a near clone of this year's Republican abortion ban bill, which makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Gardner's statement that it's a "lie" to say he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest is further tripped up by his co-sponsorship of 2011's H.R. 3, the "Redefining Rape" bill also sponsored by Rep. Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin of Missouri, which included the word "forcible" in the definition of rape to further prohibit federal funding of abortions. Colorado Right to Life, a major proponent of the Personhood abortion bans, says that Gardner "hasn't yet responded" to their 2014 survey, but listed him in 2010 as "supports Personhood, responded to our survey, has participated in CRTL events, and is considered 100% Pro-Life."…

…Cory Gardner claims that he started rethinking his support for the Personhood abortion ban "after voters rejected it by 3-to1 margin in 2010." As reported by Lynn Bartels, that appears very hard to believe, in light of the fact that Gardner signed on as a co-sponsor on July 23rd of last year to H.R. 1091: the federal Life at Conception Act. Like Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, this bill would extend "the right to life" to "every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization."

Ever since the surprise late-February announcement that Gardner would be running for Senate, we have consistently wondered aloud how Gardner would be able to convince voters that he is more moderate than his ultra-partisan record would suggest. When we pondered whether Gardner was fundamentally different enough than Ken Buck to defeat Sen. Mark Udall, we weren't joking. It was lost in the media storm surrounding the Gardner/Buck CD-4 switcheroo, but Gardner's record is so partisan that it was always going to be extremely difficult for him to move to the middle.

So what do we make of Friday's announcement from Gardner? Is this part of a broader strategy to publicly pretend to re-invent himself? We asked those questions, and then we answered them. Here's how it went:

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Udall vs. Gardner: The Kitchen Sink vs. Obamascare

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Good analysis of the Colorado U.S. Senate race today from the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Abortion, immigration, the federal government shutdown — to hear the left tell it, Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner has a multitude of sins to answer for as he campaigns across Colorado to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

The right isn't any happier with Udall, but it's his vote for the Affordable Care Act that will be hammered again. And again. And again. [Pols emphasis]

With control of the U.S. Senate at stake, millions of dollars will be spent over the next eight months to dissect, distort and doctor their records…

Bartels explores some, but not all, of the campaign themes likely to be used against Cory Gardner in this year's U.S. Senate race in today's story, which we recommend in its entirety. She notes Gardner's proud support in 2010, as recorded in a 9NEWS CD-4 primary debate, for the "Personhood" abortion ban amendment–even helping gather signatures to get Amendment 62 on the ballot that year. And what we've discussed in this space as a particularly strong hit on Gardner, his role in last year's economically disastrous shutdown of the federal government:

Take last year's government shutdown in the midst of Colorado's devastating floods. Rocky Mountain National Park alone lost nearly $11 million in revenues. Democrats say the shutdown occurred when a group of Tea Party-type Republicans, Gardner included, refused to support funding mechanisms unless Obamacare was delayed or overturned.

Gardner supporters argue the congressman was part of a group of Republicans trying to come up with a deal. Democrats counter the effort came after fellow GOP members of Congress were on TV blasting their own party over the shutdown…

The government shutdown was a huge setback for Republicans politically, with the public overwhelmingly turning against House Republicans in particular as the manufactured crisis wore on. The tremendous and very real economic damage to communities like Estes Park, which saw tourism plunge during the shutdown and even after neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park was shuttered, stands in stark contrast to the proven mendacious attacks on Sen. Mark Udall over the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare." And don't forget the added drama of anger from East Coast elected officials from both parties over Gardner's vote against Hurricane Sandy relief, then seeking relief dollars from the same source for flood relief in Colorado.

As for health care, what's Gardner's plan? We already know it doesn't include coverage for pre-existing conditions. And that's before we even get to the video clip we grabbed back in 2011 (top) of Gardner lavishing praise on the Ryan Plan GOP budget that would have privatized Medicare.

And this is the point that becomes clear from today's story: as the Obamacare-centric attacks on Democrats get debunked, and the "horror stories" being spread about the new law fail to pass elementary scrutiny–and are not substantiated by the experience of actual voters–the efficacy of Obamacare as a weapon against Democrats is breaking down. Conservative attack groups like Americans for Prosperity have been running shrill anti-Obamacare ads for months, but are meeting a progressively more chilly reception from the media as their false claims become more widely recognized. Assuming that continues, the days of persuasively spreading total lies like "millions have lost health insurance" could be about over.

Once that happens, Democrats have an awful lot of things to talk about.

Politifact: AFP Anti-Udall Obamacare Ad Rates “False”

truthometerfalse

As posted today by leading national fact-checking site Politifact, operated by the Tampa Bay Times:

"People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either. But health care isn’t about politics," she says. "It’s about people. And millions of people have lost their health insurance, millions of people can’t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less."

We’ve tackled claims about lost insurance and access to personal doctors before. But we haven’t heard someone say that the health care law is causing people to pay more for less, so we decided to check it out.

Politifact says that the first two claims in Americans For Prosperity's TV spot running in Colorado against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall–that "millions of people have lost their health insurance" and that "millions of people can’t see their own doctors" as "False" and "Mostly False" respectively, based on equivalent statements made by GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Marco Rubio. But the third claim made by this ad, that "millions are paying more and getting less," was sufficiently unexplored that Politifact made a deep dive. And the verdict:

Other than a sharp increase between 2010 to 2011, the Obama years have experienced the smallest rate increases of the last 14 years. [Pols emphasis] Throughout much of the early 2000s, premium increases of 9 percent or more were the norm.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also found a slowdown in the increase in health costs during the last four years, including a modest 4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012…

Americans for Prosperity said "millions are paying more and getting less" under Obamacare. We found their explanation of "less" rather dubious. Most people on the individual market are getting more benefits under the law. At worst, they’re paying more to get more, though in many cases they’re actually paying less.

We rate this claim False.

By thoroughly exploring this key claim in AFP's new ad, and rating it unequivocally false–along with the other claims in the ad already rated either false or mostly so–Politifact goes even farther than 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman, whose solid debunking of this ad has given Democrats another tool to fight back against AFP's enormous ad buy. There's no equivalent in federal law to Colorado's law outlawing false political advertising, and we haven't heard a legal opinion as to whether or not this ad could be pulled down under Colorado's law. But if there's anybody out there who has seen this ad saturating Colorado media markets–which is everybody–and hasn't learned that it's been totally discredited–which is almost everybody–Democrats need to get the facts out.

Because Americans For Prosperity is counting on the voters never getting the facts.

Cory Gardner Loves Him Some Ken Buck

Republican Ken Buck announced today what should come as little surprise: Rep. Cory Gardner has endorsed his campaign to replace him in CD-4.

BuckGardnerTwitter

It’s a love-fest in the Northeast Corner.

​Buck made the announcement on Twitter this morning (see image at right). While the endorsement isn't a surprise for ideological reasons, it still seems a bit strange to play right into the hands of the campaign of Sen. Mark Udall, which has been branding Gardner as a younger version of Buck.

Just a few weeks ago, Buck withdrew from the U.S. Senate race in order to make way for Gardner and to make his own run for CD-4. We've heard rumors since that "backroom deal" was first made public that Buck may have approached Gardner at some point to consider the campaign switcheroo. Others have attributed the maneuver to national GOP strategist Karl Rove, with less concern for Buck's future. 

Whatever the order of discussion, the deal would need to include Gardner's support for Buck in CD-4 for Buck to not get swamped by primary challenger. Here's the email from Buck's campaign announcing the news:

Friends,

I am writing today because I wanted to let you know that I am supporting Ken Buck as he runs to be our next representative in Congress. 

Washington’s lack of commonsense and leadership grows daily. In the many years I have known Ken, his dedication to helping others as a District Attorney, coach and community member, have shown me that he will help fill this void. Ken will work hard to put Colorado and America back on track.

I look forward to working with Ken to return fiscal responsibility, free-market economic ideas and commonsense Colorado values to Washington. Will you join me in supporting Ken?

We cannot be successful without your help. Anything you give will be used to introduce voters to Ken, combat the negative attacks and spread our message. The time to act is now. Show your support today.

Ken will be a great, independent leader for the 4th Congressional District.

                Sincerely,
             

 

 

 

With a plethora of Republicans jockeying for the right to win the GOP nomination in CD-4, it will be interesting to see if any of the candidates start bad-mouthing Gardner now that he has officially backed Buck. With the caucus season underway and the June Primary just around the corner, there's little time left to consider pulling punches.

Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

Grand Bargain’s proposed Social Security Cuts hurt Dems in recent Florida election

Memo to Mark Udall:

The National Republican Congressional Committee hit Alex Sink from the left on this, saying she "supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes, and cuts Medicare."  Liberal writers cried hypocrisy, but it didn't matter: Sink lost. For the Left, it's evidence that Democrats need to take a firm line on the entitlement program — or even support expanding it — at a time when some in the party, and especially the White House, have offered concessions.

It couldn't hurt to try. Obviously, Democrats get no political benefit from trying to cut these programs, (unless you count Villagers extolling them for being "grown-ups" which should get them at least a hundred votes in Virginia.) Why they persist in thinking this was good politics is beyond me.  Senator Jeff Merkley came out for Social Security expansion this week and Senator Mark Begich had signed on earlier so we should have a decent experiment in a blue state and a red state on this issue. I have no idea if it will be decisive, but in an off-year election that traditionally tilts heavily to older voters I think it's fair to say that denying the Republicans the ability to slap you in the face with a stated desire to cut Social Security (and a plan to actually improve it!) is a smart idea. 

Mark Udall used to love those pats on the head Lawrence Kudlow gave him for saying he would vote tomorrow to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a Grand Bargain.

It was stupid then, it's stupid now, and there's plenty of evidence to say Dems, and Mark Udall, should drop the "adults in the room" facade and fully support the middle class and those social safety net programs that have kept it from becoming extinct.

Koch Brothers Recycling Program Comes To Colorado

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo reacts similarly:

Have we heard the last Obamacare "horror" story? If new ads from the Koch Brothers-backed group are any indication, we might have…

[W]hat's notable about the ads is what they aren't: A personalized story of someone who's been negatively affected by Obamacare, the kind of verifiable set of facts that can be checked — and rebutted, as happened with a recent AFP ad that led to significant backlash from the fact-checking community.

…It's a notably different style after the group incurred the wrath of fact-checkers over an ad released last month in the Michigan Senate race. That ad told the story of a cancer patient who had her plan canceled because of Obamacare. But the spot didn't mention that the subject would save at least $1,200 for a new health plan under the law, as TPM and numerous other-fact-checkers reported.

—–

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Koch brothers-funded attack group Americans for Prosperity's much-anticipated "new" ad attacking incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is on the air today:

Dustin Zvonek, Colorado state director of AFP, said the TV ads are only part of the effort to hold Udall accountable for his continued support of ObamaCare.

“As the state’s largest free-market advocacy group, we will also engage our nearly 68,000 Colorado activist to begin holding phone banks, and going door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor talking to Coloradans about Sen. Udall’s record,” he said.

AFP, funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, has bought an ad buy of nearly $850,000 in Denver and Colorado Springs over the next three weeks. The group also is funding ads in other states where Democratic seats are up for grabs.

After Bartels posted the video yesterday evening, an important production detail quickly emerged:

The women in the Udall ad begins by saying, “People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either.”

Then she should quit making them. She has starred in three nearly identical “Obamacare just doesn’t work” ads, one targeting Udall, one targeting U.S. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and one that urges Americans to call Congress. [Pols emphasis]

 
 

That's right, folks! The ad now up attacking Udall is almost identical to ads Americans for Prosperity ran last fall attacking several other incumbent Democrats. The Hill reported last November:

"ObamaCare doesn't work. It just doesn't work," says the narrator in ads against Barber, Hagan and Murphy, after running through the litany of ongoing problems with the law.

"I trusted the president and Senator Begich. Lots of promises were made to pass ObamaCare. They knew the real truth," says the narrator in the Alaska ad. "Senator Begich didn't listen. How can I ever trust him again?"

Of course it's possible that this paid actor really did personally feel this way about all of these carefully targeted Democratic incumbents, but we kind of doubt it. But what's particularly interesting about AFP's recycled ad against Sen. Udall is how, in the months between these ads and now, Americans for Prosperity had rolled out locally-focused ads–with real people as opposed to actors telling their own personal "Obamacare horror stories."

Which have been swiftly debunked by inquiring media as fast as AFP can film ads.

With that in mind, reversion to pre-"horror story" ads makes sense, doesn't it? After all, there's not much to debunk with an actor except, well, noting they're using an actor. It neatly avoids the embarrassing trouble AFP has had in Michigan with woefully inaccurate claims about a cancer patient named Julie Boonstra, or for that matter, freelance local reporter Art Kane's recent factually unencumbered "Obamacare horror stories" for the Denver Post. But don't you think that, for all the money they're lavishing to run this ad, they could have come up with a new one? This just seems like a half effort–and an expensive one at that.

For Americans for Prosperity, truly, "reality bites." Fortunately for them, there are actors.

Kochs in Colorado for Gardner

The Koch Brothers and their Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity are coming to a TV screen near year you. As Politico reports:

Americans for Prosperity has reserved nearly $850,000 in airtime for TV ads that will begin Monday.

A source tracking media buys told POLITICO that about $500,000 in time has been reserved in Denver and $340,000 has been reserved in Colorado Springs. The money is spread over three weeks.

This buy from Americans for Prosperity is the first major expenditure by an outside group in Colorado in 2014, but it certainly won't be the last. We haven't seen the ad, but no doubt it attempts to tie incumbent Sen. Mark Udall to Obamacare. None of this is a surprise, except for the details: $340,000 seems like a lot of money to spend in a Colorado Springs market, where a heavy Republican voter base should theoretically already oppose Udall. Perhaps Udall isn't as disliked in Southern Colorado as we all might have expected.

Lessons from Florida: Obamacare is Not the Silver Bullet that Republicans Thought They Had

In a Tuesday Special Election in Florida, Republicans managed to hold on to a Republican House seat when David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink by a slim 48-46 margin. The campaign in Florida's 13th district was for the right to complete the term of the late Rep. Bill Young, who died last October.

Obamacare as a political toolEven before the race was called Tuesday night, the National Republican Congressional Committee was telling anyone who would listen that "Obamacare" was going to devastate Democratic candidates throughout the country. We've been keeping an eye on the FL-13 election for some time now, primarily because Colorado Republicans like Congressman Cory Gardner have openly expressed their belief that voter disgust with Obamacare will carry them into office in November. If the FL-13 results are any indication of how things may play out elsewhere, Gardner and friends may want to make sure they have a 'Plan B' should Obamacare stop gaining traction. Here's why:

In 2012, Rep. Young was re-elected with 58% of the vote; Jolly was a longtime staffer for Young, yet he wasn't able to crack 50% on Tuesday. Keeping what should have been a safe House seat cost Republicans and their supporters a tremendous sum of money. As our friend Chris Cillizza at "The Fix" reported on Tuesday:

$12.7 million. [Pols emphasis]

That's how much Democrat Alex Sink, Republican David Jolly and a slew of outside organizations have spent — so far — on Tuesday's special election to replace the late Bill Young (R) in Florida's 13th district, according to calculations by the Center for Public Integrity's Michael Beckel. And, the bulk of that money — $8.7 million or 68.5 percent — has been spent not by the candidates but rather by the ever-growing universe of outside organizations on both sides of the aisle. [Pols emphasis]

That's a stunning number — particularly for a seat that could, no matter who wins tonight, be lost in six months time in the November midterms.

Remember, that $12.7 million number was just the amount of spending that had been reported as of Tuesday — it's very likely that the final tally could end up closer to $20 million. In other words, Republicans and their allies will have spent in the range of $10 million to ultimately win a single Congressional seat by a 2 point margin in which the GOP candidate failed to even reach 50%.

That "Obamacare" theme is one expensive silver bullet.

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Stand with Mark Udall against the CIA’s abuse of power

For years, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado has been fighting to rein in abuses of federal power in the name of combating terrorism. Sen. Udall warned the American people about the dangers of mass surveillance against millions of innocent Americans for years before anyone knew the name Edward Snowden. To Udall’s great credit, he has consistently fought for our civil liberties in Congress–regardless of which party occupies the White House.

Today, Sen. Udall needs your help. Click here to stand with Udall as he confronts the Central Intelligence Agency’s most recent abuse of power.

News reports this week of the CIA’s alleged hacking of Senate computers to thwart the investigation into illegal detentions and interrogations have rocked Washington. [1] In response, Sen. Udall says the future of CIA Director John Brennan is in doubt. “The CIA has an important role to play, but if the public doesn’t trust the CIA, if the Senate overseers don’t trust the CIA, I don’t know how Director Brennan can continue to lead the agency,” Udall told reporters.

Congressional oversight is one of the most important checks that exists against federal abuse of power. If Congress can’t do their jobs holding intelligence agencies accountable, the risk to the civil liberties of every American is fundamental and grave. There is perhaps no more serious issue being debated in Washington today than these basic matters of unreasonable government intrusion, detention, and interrogation. It doesn’t matter which party is in the White House–we have to stand together, left and right, to protect the values that define us as Americans.

That’s the fight Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is leading right now. Click here to stand with him. We’ll share your names and comments with Sen. Udall’s office, the media, and other public officials.

Thank you once again for standing up for what’s right regardless of party affiliation. It’s personally disappointing to me that we are still having debates over civil liberties that should have ended with the Bush administration, but I’m grateful to have a leader like Sen. Udall speaking for me today. Help me send that message to Washington.

Sincerely,

Alan Franklin

Mark Udall continues Criticism of CIA’s actions in Torture and its Torture Protection Racket

Mark Udall on last night's Rachel Maddow Show maintained his criticism of the CIA's Torture, yes it is torture, program initiated by George Bush and Dick Cheney and on its continuing defense of those who committed war crimes by executing that torture program as per our specious definitions and blatant actions in trying to fight terrorism both here and abroad. 

Udall was clear that the U.S. has tortured when we never should have. He was clear that the CIA over rated their success with torture and the inane fact that few still have the cojones to call it torture. Udall does not hesitate in that. 

And he does not hesitate in stating he lacks confidence in the abilities of CIA Director Brennan and that Brennan has most likely lied about the latest incident between the Senate and the CIA.

Video link here since MSNBC has such a lousy embed feature.

Let us never forget that it was V.P. Cheney whom President Bush assigned to the Counter Terrorism Task Force. Cheney did not have a meeting with that task force in time to identify or help prevent the attacks of 9/11, hence his over-reaction and near psychotic attempt to make up for his lack of vision and failure to attend to his sworn duties as Vice President.

Operation Ignore is detailed here.

Udall Basically Calls For CIA Director Brennan To Resign

UPDATE: More commentary from reader Zappatero here.

—–

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

In the nicest possible terms, as MSNBC reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Mark Udall, D- Colo., said Tuesday that John Brennan’s future as head of the Central Intelligence Agency is in doubt after committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., accused the agency of spying on the committee and trying to interfere with its work.

“The CIA has an important role to play, but if the public doesn’t trust the CIA, if the Senate overseers don’t trust the CIA, I don’t know how Director Brennan can continue to lead the agency,” Udall said on MSNBC.

This latest conflict between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency, due to the potentially criminal nature of the CIA's actions and the underlying issue of detention and interrogation policy, risks driving a major wedge between Senate Democrats and the Obama administration. As we said yesterday, the normally hawkish Sen. Dianne Feinstein standing side-by-side with longtime critic Sen. Mark Udall in opposition to the administration on a national security matter shouldn't be taken likely.

It remains to be seen how this might affect other conflicts between the administration and Sen. Udall, like his opposition to National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs, but it seems likely to reinforce Udall's position that a rollback of the sweeping law enforcement authority given to the federal government after 9/11 is needed.

Democrats Hit Gardner in Web Ad

GardnerStache

If I grow this moustache, will you forget what I said about Personhood?

Colorado Democrats have put out a web ad highlighting the highly-conservative record of Rep. Cory Gardner. You can see the ad after the jump, but first, here's FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

The one-minute video focuses on Gardner’s support for the 2010 Personhood initiative, which would have effectively banned abortion in Colorado, a House GOP budget plan that would have “ended Medicare as we know it”, and his opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

Democrats also included the CBS News report showing Gardner on a 2012 fishing trip junket with oil and gas lobbyists; the caption over the video clips: “He even vacations with Washington lobbyists.”…

…Gardner, considered a rising star within the House GOP caucus, has long harbored ambitions beyond the House; but he had never noticeably tempered a conservative voting record that, while representing his sprawling, rural district, seemed outside the mainstream of the state’s overall electorate. [Pols emphasis]

We've discussed many times in this space that we think Gardner is going to have a real problem in explaining his ultra-partisan record to voters outside of CD-4. The fact that Gardner never even tried to moderate himself since winning election to Congress in 2010 is a major reason that Democrats and Republicans alike were surprised when he decided to enter the Senate race late last month.

 

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Udall/CIA “Hacking” Flap Heats Up

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

​As the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe reports, a fight over the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's oversight of Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogations programs, which prominently features Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, is escalating rapidly:

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday sharply accused the CIA of violating federal law and undermining the constitutional principle of congressional oversight as she detailed publicly for the first time how the agency secretly removed documents from computers used by her panel to investigate a controversial interrogation program.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.”

She confirmed that an internal agency investigation of the action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. And she said that the CIA appears to have violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as various federal laws and a presidential executive order that prevents the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance.

She has sought an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, she said. “I have received neither,” she added.

Here is Sen. Udall's statement on developments today:

"I applaud Chairman Feinstein for setting the record straight today on the Senate floor about the CIA's actions to subvert congressional oversight," Udall said. "The actions the chairman outlined are the latest events that illustrate why I directly pushed CIA Director Brennan to acknowledge the flaws in and misrepresentations about the CIA's brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program. Unfortunately, the CIA responded by trying to hide the truth from the American people about this program and undermine the Senate Intelligence Committee's oversight role by illegally searching committee computers. The U.S. Constitution is clear and Coloradans agree: The separation of powers and aggressive oversight are fundamental to our democracy, and Coloradans can count on me to continue to protect these foundational pillars no matter who is in the White House." [Pols emphasis]

For its part, the CIA denies everything:

Shortly after Feinstein's speech, CIA director John Brennan denied her allegations.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Brennan said at an event in Washington. "We wouldn't do that."

It should be noted that Sen. Udall has consistently tacked to the left of Sen. Dianne Feinstein on oversight issues related to intelligence and national security. Feinstein has been widely criticized for being overly deferential to the CIA and NSA alike as chair of the Intelligence Committee–especially after the recent revelations by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. So to see Udall and Feinstein on the same page publicly challenging the CIA is pretty good evidence that this was indeed a serious breach.

In addition to the political benefits we've discussed for Sen. Udall in an election year, it's important to have members of President Barack Obama's own party challenging excesses in the name of national security just as they did during the Bush administration (when most of these surveillance and detention programs either came into existence or were greatly expanded). Anyone who legitimately cares about personal liberty should be every bit as upset with these alleged abuses occurring under Obama as they were under the Republican administration of George W. Bush–and obviously, that works in reverse for Republicans who are suddenly up in arms about surveillance they didn't mind when a Republican was in the White House.

Udall, unlike many of his peers, can truthfully say he has been consistent on this issue without fear or favor.

Cory Gardner Polls Similar to Randy Baumgardner in Senate Race

GardnerStache

Maybe Cory Gardner would poll better if he had Randy Baumgardner’s moustache.

New polling data on Colorado's U.S. Senate race was made available today by the right-leaning firm Rasmussen Reports, and the results are telling in their sameness compared to previous polls. Rasmussen now keeps Toplines and Crosstabs behind a paywall, so we don't know the answer to the question that we've always found more telling than anything ("very favorable" vs. "very unfavorable" ratings). But in a head-to-head matchup, here's how Rasmussen sees it right now:

Mark Udall: 42%
Cory Gardner: 41%
Other: 5%
Undecided: 13%

Astute readers might recall that these numbers are not all that different from the last public poll in this race: The Quinnipiac University poll in early February. Here's how Quinnipiac shook out the numbers one month ago on the question of theoretical head-to-head matchups:

Mark Udall: 45%
Ken Buck: 42%

Mark Udall: 43%
Randy Baumgardner: 41%

Mark Udall: 44%
Owen Hill: 39%

Mark Udall: 43%
Amy Stephens: 41%

As we've discussed in this space before, we have a hard time seeing how Gardner is going to be able to move to the middle and raise his low name ID in time to defeat Udall in November (assuming, of course, that Owen Hill does not win the GOP Primary). Gardner may be a better U.S. Senate candidate for Republicans because of his fundraising ability, but he's not an election-changing candidate in and of himself.

Baumgardner's 41% in the Quinnipiac poll last month was essentially an example of how a "generic Republican" might fare in a head-to-head matchup with Udall. One month later, the GOP's beacon of hope (Gardner, in case you were getting confused) is polling no better than a guy known only for his outlandish moustache. If the polls are correct, Gardner is no different than any other "generic Republican" choice at this point in the election cycle. If that's still a "game changer," maybe we're talking about different games.