As President Obama and Mitt Romney argue about who is a better job-creator, a heated congressional race between incumbent Ed Perlmutter and challenger Joe Coors has also zeroed in on jobs and alleged outsourcing. The latest tiff centers on a mailer from a former Coors company that Perlmutter's team is deeming "fishy." But Coors campers say they, like Perlmutter, knew nothing about the literature until they saw it in the mail.
Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent for the District 7, first noticed the mailer from CoorsTek when one showed up at his door.
CoorsTek, a ceramics business formerly called Coors Porcelain Company, recently sent out the mailer, which -- at the height of election season in a race where millions of dollars are being spent on ads -- certainly looks similar to political propaganda.
Here's the mailer, first highlighted by Colorado Pols and sent to us by the Perlmutter campaign.
It says, in part:
For more than 100 years, CoorsTek has been owned and operated in Golden, CO. During this time, our thousands of US-based workers have been providing amazing products to more than 10,000 customers around the world. Our products help protect our troops, create affordable energy and make computers faster and smaller. And, as a Colorado-based company, we take pride in the $54M we've invested in Colorado jobs this past year. "Made in the USA" is alive, well and thriving in Colorado.
The mailer seemed odd to the Perlmutter campaigners, because it appears to be a direct response to their accusations that Coors, as the president and CEO of CoorsTek, outsourced manufacturing jobs to Asia. (The Perlmutter team has pointed to the opening of facilities in Korea, while Coors has said the company set up operations overseas to remain globally competitive but did not sacrifice any American jobs).
While the mailer, which points to a website called Creatingjobsincolorado.com, seems to be addressing one of the key debates that have emerged in the race, it does not have any political disclaimers. For that reason, it isn't clear what connection it might have to the Coors campaign.
"This close to election, it walks a fine line," says Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie Oliver. "The timing...is a little fishy, the fact that the website points to a political commercial...and that, to our knowledge, this only went to people that happen to live in the Seventh Congressional District.... It was a surprise [to Ed] to open the mailbox and see, as far as he can remember, the first...mailer from CoorsTek."
With regard to the commercial, Oliver is referring to a link on the CoorsTek jobs website connecting to a fact-check from Channel 4's Shaun Boyd, who noted in her analysis of the ad that most major companies have operations in other parts of the world, and said CoorsTek's business overseas was not tied to a loss of jobs in the U.S.
Continue for the full response from the Coors campaign and CoorsTek. While the mailer and associated website appear to be a direct response to Perlmutter, the literature was apparently a surprise to the Coors campaign, which argues that it had no part in it.
"We learned of this as people brought the mailer to our office," says Coors spokeswoman Michelle Yi. "We had no knowledge of it. We didn't ask them to do that.... There was absolutely no coordination between the campaign and CoorsTek."
Still, Oliver says it's telling that this kind of material is reaching voters in the district so close to Election Day.
"Ed is standing for creating jobs in our country. Joe's record is creating jobs in other countries," she says, noting that Perlmutter appreciates the jobs and work of CoorsTek here in Colorado, but believes his opponent should be called out for personally having a stake in overseas operations.
In a contentious race where much of the focus has been on Coors' record in business and his personal spending, it's not too surprising that one of the final back-and-forth arguments of the election is focused on Coors' former company.
From the Republican campaign's perspective, it's a cheap shot, and one not based in fact.
"CoorsTek is a...[an important] employer in Jefferson County. It's unfortunate to see Ed Perlmutter attacking Joe Coors over these false allegations of outsourcing. But the bottom line is, we had no knowledge...of the mailer," says Yi.
But Oliver says Coors' weak record is further evidenced by his massive personal spending in the race.
"He's trying to buy the title of job creator," she says.
The company itself calls the mailers a promotional effort and says it was done independently of the campaign for "business reputational purposes."
CoorsTek spokesman Dane Bartlett sent us this statement yesterday:
For over 100 years CoorsTek has been a proud employer in Colorado and like any other business, we are proud of our job creation record in the United States. In an effort to preserve and promote our good brand, CoorsTek distributed the mailer to our neighbors in and around Golden, Colorado.
Asked to confirm that the Coors campaign had absolutely no involvement in the mailer, he wrote back, "The decision to promote our brand was made by CoorsTek alone and for business reputational purposes."
Perlmutter, who made an appearance at a recent Obama campaign event in Lakewood featuring Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, said that his race remains a close one.
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"I have a tough race -- you all know that. Joe Coors has put about 3.5 million dollars of his own money into this race already, but we are beating him," Perlmutter told supporters. "We've gotta keep it going. Every single vote counts."
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