Where's Mike Coffman? That's the question raised by a new site called Wheresmikecoffman.com, which accuses the reelection-seeking Republican congressman of being unresponsive to voters.
In response, Coffman's spokesman says the politician has been available at all kinds of public events -- and denounces the group behind the site for "dirty campaign tactics."
That organization is Colorado Fair Share, a local branch of the Fair Share Alliance, a liberal-leaning group that is going after Coffman, who currently represents Colorado's 6th district and is now fighting in a competitive race against Democrat Joe Miklosi because of the way the state's districts have been redrawn.
The site -- which says "Mike, oh Mike, where have you gone?" -- claims Coffman is completely inaccessible to his constituents. The home page states: "If you're just an ordinary voter from Aurora, chances are you've never met Mike unless you've attended one of his fundraisers." To bring home that message, the site shares numerous videos of Aurora residents staked outside of Coffman's home, calling his office trying to schedule meetings with him, showing up in person to his district office and more.
Here's one of the videos, in which a crowd of people shout, "Why are you ignoring us!" over and over as Coffman appears to be driving up to [correction] a fundraiser.
"If people go to his office with concerns, he ignores them," says David Bouchey, a volunteer with Fair Share Alliance who lives in Aurora. "He does, however, go to fundraisers all over the rest of the state.... He doesn't do anything where people from Aurora can get to him with their concerns."
Bouchey was one of several Aurora residents who actually went to Tampa, Florida for the Republican National Convention, partly with the hope of finally getting a chance to talk to Coffman in person.
Turns out Coffman decided to stay in Colorado.
"We have constantly tried to reach him," says Bouchey, 55, who used to be a stock analyst and is now unemployed. "He should know that I live in Aurora, the district he is trying to get elected to represent. No one there would talk to us. No one in Washington D.C. would talk to us."
Currently, Aurora is split between two districts -- part in Coffman's 6th district and part in Congressman Ed Perlmutter's district. But with redistricting, Coffman is now running to represent the entire city of Aurora -- and residents partnering with Colorado Fair Share are going after him, because he could now be their future representative.
Bouchey began targeting Coffman when he was concerned about losing his unemployment insurance, since he has been having difficult finding a job and is the father of three. He wanted to ask Coffman to extend unemployment insurance.
"This is the worst economic downturn we've had in decades," Bouchey says. "I've been trying to reach him personally."
The website went live yesterday and goes after Coffman not only for being unresponsive, but also for voting for the "Ryan/Romney budget that cuts taxes for the wealthy and ends Medicare as we know it."
Screenshot of wheresmikecoffman.com.
In a statement, Owen Loftus, Coffman's campaign spokesman, criticizes Fair Share and Coffman's opponent, Joe Miklosi:
Congressman Coffman prides himself as being open and available to meet with his constituents and has had dozens of public events over the summer, including forums, meet-and-greets, town halls, parades, roundtables and meetings with civic organization like the Veterans of Foreign Wars across the district, including in his home town of Aurora. This organization has already been called-out by national press for their dirty campaign tactics. We are not going to allow Joe Miklosi and his allies intimidate the congressman and his family by stalking, showing up at their home, hiding in bushes and harassing their neighbors. These extreme tactics are desperate, irresponsible and unprecedented in Colorado politics.
Ryan Hobart, a campaign spokesman for Miklosi, the Democratic challenger, reacts with a statement of his own, stressing that Miklosi is not connected to the website. But he still uses the opportunity to take a swipe at Coffman:
Our campaign had nothing to do with this website, but it is no surprise people want to ask Mike Coffman about his extreme record that includes voting for the Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it and supporting a ban on abortions even in cases of rape or incest.
Loftus tells us that his statement and the mention of "national press" is in reference to Politico articles on "candidate tracking," one which includes mention of Colorado Fair Share's campaign targeting Coffman.
In a phone interview, he says, "The fact that they say the congressman isn't available to the public, that's just ludicrous. He prides himself on being open and available to constituents."
Loftus also criticizes Fair Share's tactics: "They hide in front of the congressman's house. They harass his neighbors.... What they want us to do is have an event that is for them. We are not gonna have an event for an extreme liberal special interest group."
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He adds: "We are not gonna let these people try to intimidate Congressman Coffman and his family and his neighborhood.... Colorado voters deserve a campaign that is respectful and that's what we are going to give them."
More from our Politics archive: "Paul Ryan returns to Colorado as group questions whether he climbed nearly forty 14ers"