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Cory Gardner is being hypocritical about drunk driving or he isn't -- one or the other

Categories: Politics

cory gardner.jpg
Cory Gardner swears he doesn't like drunk driving!
More evidence that the Democratic Party sees Representative Betsy Markey as among the more vulnerable freshmen in Congress -- an attack on her opponent, Cory Gardner, by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which accuses him of "political opportunism" and "hypocrisy" regarding a bill he plans to introduce in January making repeat drunk driving a felony.

Why? Because Gardner previously voted against a drunk-driving bill in 2006 and sorta/kinda/in-a-way referred to such similar legislation the next year as "nanny bills."

Mike Ciletti, Gardner's campaign manager, says there's an explanation.

"Representative Gardner has always been tough on crime and has always been a strong advocate for stiffer penalties on drunk drivers," Ciletti says. As for the legislation he voted against in 2006, he dismisses it as "feelgood measures proposed by the Democrats that did nothing to solve the problem, because they were unenforceable."

Here's how the DCCC describes the bill in question:

Gardner voted against a bill setting safety measures against persistent drunk drivers, lowering the blood alcohol content level for designation of a persistent drunk and requiring the Division of Motor Vehicles to note the requirement of an ignition lock on the person's driving record. The legislation also increased the minimum surcharge for alcohol- and drug-related offenses to $50 and authorized money in the persistent drunk driver cash fund to be used to pay for intervention or treatment services for persons unable to pay for the intervention or treatment. [State of Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services, 2006 Digest of Bills, July 2006; State of Colorado House Journal, 5/05/06]

As you'd expect, Ciletti has a different take.

"I believe the bill called for the installation of breathalyzers in previous offenders' cars -- and that can be circumvented by asking a friend in the passenger seat to break into it for you," he says. "Granted, technology is improving. But we still haven't come up with a tried-and-true solution that prevents repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel that's as effective as jail time."

Look below for the entire DCCC release:

Cory Gardner's Motivation: Political Opportunism

Recently, Cory Gardner earned himself a hypocrisy award for becoming a champion of DUI enforcement after previously opposing measures to protect Coloradans from persistent drunk drivers and dismissing as "nanny bills" efforts to fight drunk driving.

But with the availability of new information available about drunk driving in Colorado, Gardner's motivation has come into crystal clear focus: political opportunism. After all, leading up to the climb in Colorado's drunk driving death rate, Gardner opposed anti-DUI measures and now, given that the rate is dropping and he's running for Congress, Gardner's embracing the issue.

"Cory Gardner voted against protecting Coloradans from persistent drunk drivers and Colorado's drunken driving death rate increased. And now as Colorado's alcohol-related fatality rate is falling, Gardner has promised to introduce legislation to toughen penalties on drunk drivers," said Andy Stone, Western Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Gardner's move smacks of hypocrisy but, deep in a competitive Republican primary campaign, it's clear he's trying to separate himself from the pack with some political opportunism."

Background

• According to the Denver Post, in 2008, Colorado was one of seven states whose death rate from drunken driving increased. Additionally, the Post reported that through September, the state has seen a 27 percent decrease in alcohol- and drug-related deaths in crashes the State Patrol investigated. [Denver Post, 12/8/09]

• Gardner said he'll "introduce legislation next year that would create tougher penalties for drunken drivers." [Denver Post, 9/4/09]

• Gardner voted against a bill setting safety measures against persistent drunk drivers, lowering the blood alcohol content level for designation of a persistent drunk and requiring the Division of Motor Vehicles to note the requirement of an ignition lock on the person's driving record. The legislation also increased the minimum surcharge for alcohol- and drug-related offenses to $50 and authorized money in the persistent drunk driver cash fund to be used to pay for intervention or treatment services for persons unable to pay for the intervention or treatment. [State of Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services, 2006 Digest of Bills, July 2006; State of Colorado House Journal, 5/05/06]

• In referring to the 2007 legislative session about which the House Speaker noted, "The bad news is that if you're a drunk driver, sex offender, animal abuser, a lawbreaking mortgage broker, July 1 will not be a good day for you," Gardner took issue with the fees the legislation incurred, responding, "...and we're about to give them a one-two-punch with increased fees and more nanny bills." [Associated Press, 6/30/07]


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