Hot Sheet

Gardner’s statement used by Russian trolls in 2015

Author: Joey Bunch - May 11, 2018 - Updated: May 11, 2018

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington in 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was a tool of Russian trolls as they laid the groundwork for the 2016 presidential campaign, the left-leaning Colorado Times Recorder website reported this week.

Researcher and advocacy communications pro Erik Maulbetsch found that the fake news site with the ironic name Being Patriotic used Gardner’s 2015 statement about an FBI law enforcement alert concerning Middle Eastern men trying to intimidate Colorado military families.

Gardner Russia
(Courtesy of the Colorado Times Recorder.)

Gardner’s statement made news, locally and nationally, at the time.

“I am alarmed by reports out of Denver that military members’ families have been harassed outside their homes and may be under surveillance,” he said three years ago in the statement. “This news comes less than two weeks after FBI Director James Comey, speaking in Denver, warned of the heightened threat from the Islamic State that Colorado specifically faces.”

Being Patriotic was a website and Russian-linked advocacy operation that worked in the U.S. illegally to get Donald Trump elected, investigators have suggested.

Gardner’s office said Friday there was no reason to comment on an “$8 Facebook ad” the senator had nothing to do with but said, rightly, Gardner’s record on Russia is clear.

“He believes Vladimir Putin is a thug and recently introduced a bill that called for the State Department to examine naming Russia a state sponsor of terror,” said Gardner spokesman Casey Contres.

He pointed to Gardner’s op-ed in the New York Times last month.

In it, Gardner wrote:

“Some will argue that applying such a toxic label to a major global power, one with a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, will not get it to back down, and might even further damage American-Russia ties, already at an all-time low. Those are important policy questions, which is why my legislation leaves a final determination to the professionals at the State Department.

“However, it is clear that the blame for today’s distrust and tensions between Moscow and Washington lies entirely with the Kremlin and its atrocious behavior. We must take every diplomatic step necessary to protect our allies and our democracy, and to deter a revanchist Russia that is intent on rewriting history and threatening our way of life.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.