Two Republican candidates for House District 21 canceled appearances on Gazette TV on Friday after Congressman Doug Lamborn called them both and said the Gazette had been unfair to him.
Lamborn confirmed to The Gazette Monday afternoon that he had called former Fountain City Councilwoman Lois Landgraf, and reached out to candidate Al Sweet, to say that he had been wronged.
“I have real problems with how The Gazette treated me in this online video chat yesterday, and I would like to urge you not to do it,” Lamborn said in a voicemail to Sweet that was left at a wrong number.
“They were dishonest with me and unfair,” Lamborn said. “They did things to help my opponent they did not tell me they were doing. And they were unfair to me. I just think you shouldn’t do this.”
Lamborn, along with his Republican primary opponent, Robert Blaha, appeared on live-streaming video interviews on Gazette TV last Thursday. At Lamborn’s insistence, Blaha the two were interviewed separately, though The Gazette requested a joint appearance. Lamborn also required that Blaha be interviewed first, which, he said, would give him an opportunity to respond better to Blaha.
Blaha was interviewed at 9 a.m., and Lamborn at 10 a.m.
But Blaha was allowed to submit a written response to Lamborn’s interview afterwards, which Lamborn didn’t know about. He should have been told, he said.
On top of that, Lamborn said that Blaha’s response didn’t address anything he had said in the interview. Instead, the response took a completely different tack, and raised issues that hadn’t been mentioned during either of the prior interviews, Lamborn pointed out.
“Our goal with GTV is to bring the candidates in a live video format to our audience, providing a forum for the audience to ask unfiltered questions. We worked very hard to try to be fair to both candidates,” said Carmen Boles, Director of Content at The Gazette.
“Allowing Mr. Blaha to respond via reporter was our concession to him for changing his schedule to accommodate the request of Mr. Lamborn,” Boles said.
The back and forth between the two has been ongoing over the past few months, as both have accused each other of lying and libel. Blaha issued a statement almost immediately after the Lamborn phone recording was released by The Gazette, and said the call was a “blatant attempt to manipulate and distort The Gazette’s coverage.”
Lamborn also objected to the fallout from a comment he made during the interview, when he replied that he’d “gone beyond” Hefley’s legacy.
When asked about the comment, Hefley called Lamborn a “knucklehead,” and said he was out of line.
Lamborn objected to the story, and said it was based on a misquote, when it was reported that he said that his chairmanship of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources was better than Hefley’s past chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Armed Services Readiness.
Lamborn said he had been comparing his chairmanship to a separate subcommittee that Hefley had chaired — the House Subcommittee on Parks and Public Lands.
That was why he called Landgraf and tried to reach Sweet, he said.
“When I put all those things together, I looked back and said, the interview was good, but I was shabbily treated. So I thought other people should know that before they go on,” Lamborn said.
Hefley, however, was not only referring to Lamborn’s subcommittee comparisons, but a number of other points as well. Not least of which was that Lamborn said he feels “like I’ve gone beyond his legacy.”
“His job is not to compete with me. It’s to serve the people of the 5th District,” Hefley said on Friday. “That’s not something people do. I never said anything like that about any of the men who served before me.”
Hefley took issue with Lamborn saying that he’d gotten the ball rolling on the National Veterans’ Cemetery after he had failed, that he suggested that the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee was better than his Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee, and added that Lamborn was taking a political risk by questioning him.
After expressing his concerns to The Gazette, Lamborn said he was reassured that he and the news organization would have a positive relationship.