The man behind FuckCoryGardner.org, a website that's attracted a sizable cult audience since launching on March 30, one week ago today, laughs frequently when describing his creation. But even though the name of the page and the images on it are funny, Denver's Trevor Rawls makes it clear that the project is no joke.
"I think it exemplifies what a lot of people in Denver and other places are feeling right now, which is that Cory Gardner isn't listening to his constituency," Rawls maintains. "So this is an almost cathartic way of saying, 'Fuck you. If you're not going to listen to us, we're going to document everything you're doing. We're paying attention, and come election time, we're going to have a laundry list of instances that show you didn't vote with your constituency. You voted with special interests and corporations.'"
The site follows the graphic at the top of this post with a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to election day in 2020, plus links allowing visitors to share their thoughts with Gardner via phone, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Next comes a section titled "How Cory Has Fucked You," boasting four categories — "Selling Your Data to ISPs," "Confirming Betsy DeVos," "Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline" and "Right to Personhood Legislation" — supplemented by the amount of money he's accepted from groups backing the positions he ultimately took.
A screen capture of the site's "How Cory Has Fucked You" section.
Immediately thereafter comes "Who Owns Cory Gardner," which links to donation details regarding "Oil & Gas, Big Banks, Telecoms" and the question, "AM I A PAID PROTESTER?" The answer to the latter: "No. That's a ridiculous thing to say. In fact, that seems like something you would say to try and delegitimize the 'fire hose' of calls that are coming in to your office."
Yes, the words "fire hose" are also linked (to an MSNBC post about the paid-protester myth), and so, too, are suggestions under the final category, "How Can I Fuck Cory Gardner Back?" The options are "Tell Him to Resign" ("Will this work? Probably not, since you can't recall federally elected officials. But it sends a strong message for 2020") and "Call His Office" ("He may think you're a 'paid protester,' but he can't ignore the consistent influx of calls coming in to his office on every issue").
According to Rawls, the roots of the site "go back to after Trump got elected. I've always followed politics and been pretty involved, but since that happened, I've become a lot more involved, like a lot of people, in terms of protesting and that kind of thing. But the straw that really broke the camel's back, so to speak, was the vote to repeal the FCC rule about broadband companies selling our browsing histories. [President Donald Trump signed the measure into law this week.] After seeing that, and after seeing Cory Gardner vote along party lines to approve that, I had an emotional reaction and felt that somebody should really do this — somebody should really create a website called FuckCoryGardner.com."
Turns out somebody had: FuckCoryGardner.com already existed — though the only thing on it is a countdown-to-election clock. "I saw it and thought, 'I think I can make it better,'" Rawls notes. "So I found the next best thing, which was FuckCoryGardner.org, and proceeded to build it out from there."
Fortunately for Rawls, he has the expertise to do so. He does web marketing for a tech company in Denver and has built websites before, which explains why FuckCoryGardner.org looks so professional. But beyond mere visual design, Rawls wanted to include some substance.
The site's paid-protester response.
"I really wanted to use it as a place to keep track of how he's screwing over his constituents," Rawls explains. "I wanted to keep track, especially since Trump got elected, of how he's voted along [Trump's] lines and his ideology 100 percent of the time."
Once he'd constructed the site and made it live on the 30th, Rawls placed its web address on Reddit and got a quick reaction. "It immediately resonated with that community, and specifically Denver Reddit," he points out. "Then it started to get Facebook shares and kind of blew up from there." As of yesterday, six days after its debut, the site had already generated more than 5,500 page views and continues to gather momentum.
Energized by this response, "I took things a step further and started buying domains that are pro-Cory Gardner," Rawls reveals. "I bought VoteCoryGardner.com and some other things — and now all those domains redirect to the FuckCoryGardner.org page. I can't believe his staff didn't buy those domains from the outset — and they're going to be unpleasantly surprised come election time, when they figure out that they're all going to my web page."
After being contacted by Westword, Rawls decided to use his real name rather than taking cover behind a pseudonym. He knows this decision opens him up to attacks from Gardner-loving trolls (he's not exactly hard to find online), but he made the move anyway, to fight the paid-protester story line. "Ideologically, I align with progressives and more liberal thinking," he acknowledges, "but I'm not affiliated with any organization. And ultimately, this is a very personal issue. Cory Gardner needs to know I'm not a paid protester. I did this on my own, and hopefully that will send a stronger message that the people contacting him are the people who put him in office, not people who are being paid to call him."
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Rawls adds that he's phoned Gardner's office "probably a dozen times" since Trump's election and he's yet to reach an actual human being. "Nobody answers his phone," he says, "and that's another thing that's infuriating. It's very condescending. It makes you feel like your elected official doesn't care about you when he says that you're a paid protester and this influx of calls into his office isn't real, isn't authentic. I think that's very demeaning, very disrespectful to his constituents."
By the way, we sent a FuckCoryGardner.org link to a Gardner spokesperson and asked for a comment. We didn't get a response, either.
Click to visit FuckCoryGardner.org.