Election 2018GunsHot Sheet

Conservative website calls out Democrat Jason Crow for law firm’s lobbying history on behalf of gun interests

Author: Ernest Luning - February 27, 2018 - Updated: February 27, 2018

Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow criticizes U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman's record on gun issues in a digital ad released by Crow's campaign on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Via YouTube)Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow criticizes U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s record on gun issues in a digital ad released by Crow’s campaign on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Via YouTube)

The conservative Washington Free Beacon on Monday pointed out that Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow works at a high-powered law firm that has lobbied and done legal work for gun interests at the same time he’s attacked the “gun lobby” and been calling on U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman to return campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

In the wake of the school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, earlier this month, Crow released a digital ad blasting Coffman’s record on gun policy and demanded that the five-term incumbent unload the roughly $35,000 his campaign has taken from the NRA, more than any other member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.

Crow is one of four Democrats running in the battleground 6th Congressional District against Coffman, who is facing a primary challenge from the right.

A Coffman campaign spokesman dismissed Crow’s ad as a “cheap political stunt” and called Crow’s focus on the campaign contributions an attempt to “score political points over this tragedy.”

A report by the Free Beacon’s Todd Shepherd — he was the investigative reporter behind the Independence Institute’s Complete Colorado website for years before departing for Washington, D.C., in late 2016 — digs into lobbying performed by the Denver office of Holland & Hart, where Crow has worked for nearly a decade and was made partner at the beginning of last year.  (In between his work at Complete Colorado and the Washington Free Beacon, Shepherd worked at The Washington Examiner, which is owned by Clarity Media Group, the owner of Colorado Politics.)

It turns out the large firm lobbied for the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Magpul Industries, a manufacturer of large-capactity ammunition magazines used by the Aurora theater shooter — including in 2013, when Colorado’s Democratic-controlled Legislature passed gun control bills later signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, and the next year when gun-rights activists sought to repeal or overturn the legislation.

Shepherd uncovered a 2013 letter written to Hickenlooper on behalf of Magpul by Holland & Hart partner Jonathan Anderson — a former chief legal counsel to Republican Gov. Bill Owens and the director of the law firm’s government affairs group — asking the governor to veto a bill that limited ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. Hickenlooper signed the bill into law, and Magpul later moved its facilities to Texas and Wyoming after the law stayed on the books.

“In other words,” Shepherd wrote, “the firm Crow was a part of lobbied for positions on bills that were identical to the positions of the National Rifle Association.”

On Monday, Coffman campaign manager Tyler Sandberg had this to say about Shepherd’s findings: “Washington doesn’t need another lawyer that says one thing and does another.”

““Jason isn’t a lobbyist and has never been a lobbyist,” Alex Ball, Crow’s campaign manager, told Colorado Politics. “And when it comes to his campaign, Jason has made it clear the reforms that he will be fighting for in Congress, like a ban on assault weapons, stricter background checks and rejecting corporate PAC money. What Mike Coffman has done is sell his votes to NRA to the tune of $34,700, more than any other member in the Colorado delegation, and has sacrificed the safety of Coloradans in the process.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.