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Cory Gardner talks energy prices, takes lobbyist cash

This past Saturday, Colorado Representative Cory Gardner, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, was tapped to offer the Weekly Republican Address on skyrocketing energy costs. But at the same time, a CBS report showed that he's been expending lots of gas on another topic...
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This past Saturday, Colorado Representative Cory Gardner, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, was tapped to offer the Weekly Republican Address on skyrocketing energy costs. But at the same time, a CBS report showed that he's been expending lots of gas on another topic.

In his first congressional campaign, circa 2010, Gardner campaigned against business as usual in Washington, and said he would always put the families in Colorado first.

But they didn't get a taste of the "Good Life," as Gardner did on a recent fundraising junket in Florida.

The CBS report , which aired Friday, followed a dozen freshmen Republican reps -- Sandy Adams of Florida, Quico Canseco of Texas, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Bob Dold of Illinois, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Daniel Webster of Florida, Mike Grimm and Nan Hayworth of New York, Jim Renacci of Ohio and Gardner -- to a Campaign 2012 fundraiser at the pricy Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, where it cost $10,000 just to get into the happy hour. An excerpt:

During his campaign, Gardner promised average voters would inspire his actions. One ad said, "I will always put Colorado families before the Washington special interests."

But in Key Largo, Gardner appeared to offer special interests lots of face time. He was seen on camera talking to an attendee who said he works for a bank. In another shot, he's seen going charter fishing as part of the fundraising package -- they head out on a group of boats including one named "Good Life."

At least it wasn't named "Monkey Business." That's the vessel that sank Gary Hart's presidential hopes. But it wasn't running on wind power, either.

And Gardner's opponents were quick to poke more holes in his image. Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, for example, offered this:

"No one is deeper in big oil's pocket than Congressman Gardner, so it's no surprise that when Washington insiders needed a foot soldier to deliver their scripts, they turned to Cory Gardner. Just last year, Rep. Gardner took over $177,000 in campaign cash from big oil and gas interests, and just yesterday, we learned that he was fundraising in Florida, where he hosted a lobbyist happy hour with a $10,000 cover charge. Special interests have been paying big money to Congressman Gardner, and today we see what they expect in return. Coloradans deserve a Congressman who puts them first, not big oil and special interests."

Here's the full text of Gardner's address Saturday:

Driving around the district these days, the first, and often times only, thing my constituents want to talk about is the pain at the pump. In our state, gas prices have gone up forty cents a gallon in just one month. This hurts everyone...families, commuters, job seekers, and especially small business owners. It isn't just American dollars at risk with high gas prices -- it's American jobs, too.

People in my district and around the country are fed up with the way the president is handling this issue, and rightly so. The most forceful thing the president has done about high gas prices is try to explain that he's against them. Americans are right to expect more from their leaders.

To be fair, there have been signs of hope. Last month, the president told leaders in Congress he would be willing to work with Republicans on an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. That was encouraging. Republicans have long supported an "all-of-the-above" strategy to develop our own resources - both traditional and renewable -- so we can lower costs and improve America's energy security.

From day one, however, the Obama administration has consistently slowed or shut down domestic energy production. There is actually less acreage offshore open for energy production now than there was when the president took office. Instead increasing American energy independence, the president's first major energy initiative was a national energy tax that, according to him, would cause rates to "skyrocket." He also plowed "stimulus" dollars into crony capital company Solyndra that has since gone bankrupt, taking half a billion of taxpayer dollars with it. After spending money we don't have on what won't work - and overregulating what would -- is it any wonder gas prices have more than doubled on the president's watch? Make no mistake, high gas prices are a symptom of his failed "stimulus" policies.

That's why it was good to hear that the president indicated he'd be willing to work with Republicans on energy. In the meantime, the House has continued to pass 'all-of-the-above' energy initiatives as part of Republicans' Plan for America's Job Creators. Right now, there are at least seven bipartisan, House-passed energy bills sitting in the Democratic-run Senate, waiting on a vote.

Unfortunately, the president has yet to follow through and urge the Senate to act. He's just carried on with more of the same.

• He's called for raising energy taxes, which the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says would actually lead to higher prices.

• He's asked the Attorney General to 'reconstitute' an oil speculation task force that has never reported its work to the public.

• He quietly pushed members of Congress to prevent construction of the Keystone pipeline -- despite overwhelming public support for the project and the jobs it would create - and his lobbying may have made the difference in the vote.

• And just this week, his administration pressed the Saudis to produce more oil, even as it works to close off more production here at home.

No, government alone can't work wonders, but America's entrepreneurs and job creators, given freedom and opportunity, can. It's up to us in Washington to remove costly, artificial barriers that stand in their way. The longer we let politicians like President Obama continue to block responsible American energy production, the longer our nation will continue to suffer with high gas prices and limited energy security.

There's still time for the president to do the right thing and urge the Democratic-controlled Senate to act on bipartisan, House-passed energy bills. Let's seize this moment, expand freedom instead of government, and secure our energy future once and for all.

Thank you and God bless the United States of America.

All ashore who's going ashore! Look below to watch the CBS report.

Gary Hart hasn't sat idly by since his runs for president. Get details in this 2008 post, "Q&A With Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart."

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