DENVER — Tucked inside a new book about money in American politics is a new report that Congressman Cory Gardner, now running for the U.S. Senate in a top-tier race, attended a Washington confab sponsored by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group during last year’s government shutdown.
Ken Vogel, in his new book “Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp – on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics“, details how a new era of campaign finance laws has shifted political power from party bosses to a handful of outside groups led by consultants and financed by billionaires.
In a section of the book focused on last year’s government shutdown, Vogel writes about Speaker John Boehner’s struggle to control the Tea Party wing of his party, which pushed the shutdown in a failed effort to stop Obamacare’s implementation mostly because of political concerns that they would face primary challenges if they didn’t.
During the government shutdown, Vogel writes, “the very folks who could form the Speaker’s own cash calvary were secretly convening a mile west of the White House at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. Some of the richest Republican businessmen and most influential big-money operatives were set to gather over the next couple of days with the pols they hoped would lead the revival of the GOP’s Chamber of Commerce Centrist wing.”
The meeting was convened by Karl Rove’s organization Crossroads, which titled the agenda “The Republican Future”, with the purpose of reclaiming control of the GOP from its more extreme Tea Party wing.
Vogel notes that he didn’t expect many prominent politicians to attend (House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both opted not to show up), figuring “it would look pretty bad for any Republican to be caught schmoozing big donors at the very moment that the party’s congressional contingent was being blamed for an unpopular stalemate causing real pain for regular Americans.”
And then, Vogel writes, Gardner showed up along with Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin.
“Just after 7 p.m.–at the precise moment when Boehner was emerging from the White House to announce there was no deal in sight to end the shutdown–up to the Crossroads summit registration desk swaggered two of the very men whose support Boehner would need to pass any such deal.”
Gardner’s campaign tells FOX31 Denver that the event was not a fundraiser.
“Cory briefly attended an event on the evening of October 2nd immediately after voting to fund the National Institutes of Health,” said Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano. “The reception was not a fundraiser and Cory did not raise money. Rather, he was invited to attend the event which had been scheduled months in advance and was held to honor rising stars within the Republican party.”
An invitation to the Crossroads event billed it as “an opportunity for supporters…to hear from party leaders, policy experts, rising stars, and the top 2014 Senate candidates,” according to an Oct. 9, 2013 Roll Call report.
Gardner’s opponent, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, has broadly criticized him for being part of a House GOP majority that shut down the government at a time when Colorado was struck by catastrophic floods and heavily reliant on government aid in the immediate aftermath.
“I would never vote to shut down the federal government, especially after historic floods,” Udall says often on the campaign trail.
Just a few weeks ago, Crossroads announced that it will spend more than $2.8 million to run TV spots from June through August in Colorado to help Gardner.