The Aurora-based VA Medical Center opened five years behind schedule and $1 billion over budget this summer. It provides fewer beds and services than the old facility. The boondoggle symbolizes government dysfunction.
Denver lawyer Jason Crow was supposed to advocate for veterans, who awaited the facility’s completion. He served on the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs, an organization created by the Legislature to advocate for vets and secure their benefits. It is the state’s means of ensuring Colorado-based veterans get the federal benefits they’ve earned.
As confirmed by a 9 News Denver fact check, Crow missed nearly 40 percent of the Division of Veterans Affairs meetings while the federal government left veterans waiting. Meanwhile, he defended a Texas contractor who defrauded the Department of Veterans Affairs over five years.
If House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gets her way, Crow will represent Colorado in Congress next year.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman never takes his eyes off the VA’s mismanagement. While Crow missed meetings and took criminal clients, Coffman castigated the VA and President Donald Trump’s VA secretary for promoting Stella Fiotes — who oversaw the hospital’s construction — to head the agency’s division of acquisition, logistics and construction.
Coffman wrote a May 13 letter to Trump documenting how the VA fails to meet its “solemn obligation” to veterans. He detailed a “VA culture that tolerates incompetence and bureaucratic inertia” and demanded change.
Coffman amended the National Defense Authorization Act in 2014 to protect troops injured in combat from unfair discharges for mental health conditions related to their service.
A combat veteran of the Army and Marine Corps, Coffman voluntarily left his political career twice to serve in Iraq. By every measure conceivable, Coffman serves as Colorado’s most productive advocate of veterans and their families. He works to improve health care for all, protect Social Security, save Medicare, improve education, preserve the environment and support small businesses.
Desperate to restore herself as speaker of the House by electing Crow, Pelosi targets Coffman with deceptive adds funded by her Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
One ad slams Coffman, an outspoken critic of Trump, for consistently voting with the president.
Pelosi’s campaign fails to explain how Coffman’s “Trump” votes include bills most rational members of Congress support, from both parties. Examples:
• H.R. 1301, pay raises for troops, passed 371-48
• H.R. 4909, to prevent school violence, passed 407-10
• H.R. 6, to reduce opioid addiction, passed 396-14
• H.R. 579, allowing Medicaid to fund opioid treatment in mental health facilities, passed 261-155
• H.R. 5788, stopping imports of opioids in international mail, passed 353-52
• H.R. 601, funding Hurricane Harvey relief, passed 316-90
• H.R. 601, providing more Hurricane Harvey relief, passed 419-3
• H.R. 6199, allowing health savings accounts to buy over-the-counter medication, passed 277-142
• S 2372, expanding private care for veterans, passed 347-70
• Coffman voted for six bills signed by Trump in 2017 and 2018 to avoid government shutdowns.
Pelosi’s attack ads ignore the fact Coffman voted against Trump’s health care plan and against the president’s deficit-inducing budget. She ignores that Coffman led the charge to fire Trump’s VA secretary, opposes Trump’s proposed U.S. Space Force, and voted to sanction Russia against Trump’s demand.
Pelosi’s power play would replace Coffman with Crow, a fellow veteran best known for representing wealthy white-collar criminals. Crow’s Holland & Hart law firm bio praises the lawyer for standing among “rising stars” in “white collar” criminal defense.
In addition to the client who defrauded the VA, Crow defended a convict who embezzled money from employee pensions. Another Crow clients sold misleading health coverage, leaving victims with hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncovered medical bills. It seems he’ll represent anyone who writes a big enough check.
Pelosi craves power and intends to get it by replacing a tireless defender of working-class Coloradans and veterans with a man whose clients defraud them. Let’s hope Pelosi and Crow don’t succeed in harming Colorado with a sleazy campaign of deception.
The Gazette editorial Board