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Republican PAC launches ad attacking Army vet Jason Crow for ‘turning his back on veterans’

Author: Ernest Luning - September 7, 2018 - Updated: September 7, 2018

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Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow is pictured in a Congressional Leadership Fund ad attacking the Army veteran for his record advocating for veterans. The GOP PAC’s ad was set to begin airing on Sept. 7 in the Denver media market. (via YouTube)

A Republican super PAC released its second TV ad Friday attacking Democrat Jason Crow for the attorney and decorated Army veteran’s record on veterans issues.

The 30-second ad, paid for by the House GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, repeats charges from the group’s first ad — that Crow missed meetings of a state veterans board while the VA crisis festered, a claim deemed an “overreach” in a fact check by Colorado Politics’ broadcast partner — and throws in another one, that Crow “cashed in while veterans got ripped off, defending a corporate executive who stole millions from a veterans’ hospital.”

Crow, who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star, is challenging five-term U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Army and Marine Corps veteran, in the battleground 6th Congressional District.

The ad, set to air on cable and broadcast TV and digital platforms, is part of a $2.3 million campaign the Republican PAC has announced in the district.

The case referenced in the ad involves someone named Jonathan Saunders, who ran a company that contracted with the VA in Texas. In 2013, he was charged with multiple counts of fraud and identity theft surrounding a $2 million agreement with a VA hospital based on false claims that his company was owned by service-disabled veterans.

According to court records, Crow, an attorney at venerable Colorado law firm Holland & Hart, represented Saunders for about a month at around the time he was indicted. Saunders soon after enlisted another attorney before pleading guilty two years later. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison and ordered to pay back $1.5 million.

“As a trial lawyer, Jason Crow cashed in while veterans got ripped off, defending a corporate executive who stole millions from a veterans’ hospital,” Courtney Alexander, CLF communications director, said in a statement. “Coloradans deserve better than Jason Crow.”

On Friday, Crow campaign communications director Mitch Schwartz blasted the ads, pointing to a Denver Post editorial published Thursday night that called the first CLF ad “grossly misleading” and slammed Coffman for echoing the attack on Twitter.

“As the Denver Post editorial board said, Paul Ryan’s super PAC should fire whoever is making these intellectually dishonest TV ads – and Mike Coffman should be ashamed for parroting the same attacks on decorated combat veteran Jason Crow,” Schwartz said in a statement.

“After earning a Bronze Star and leading over 100 combat missions, Jason was named pro-bono lawyer of the year for hundreds volunteer of hours spent helping veterans. We know Mike Coffman was desperate to hide his 96 percent voting record with Trump, but this is a new low.”

The Post editorial tore into the Republican PAC’s attempt to link the health care scandal that engulfed the VA with Crow’s attendance record on the state advisory board — missing 17 monthly meeting over five years, a stretch when Crow and his wife’s two young children were born.

“Conflating the two is the equivalent of blaming a small-town mayor for the policies of the White House,” the Post scolded.

Crow’s allies — including fellow veterans and political veterans groups —  excoriated the House GOP’s first ad two weeks ago, calling it a “misleading and despicable attack” and a “shameful distortion.” A group of veterans also staged a march outside Coffman’s Aurora office, demanding the congressman call for the ad to be taken down.

Ralph Bozella, who chaired the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs when Crow sat on the panel, denounced the earlier ad in a statement.

“This attack is politics at its worst,” he said. “In my tenure as chair, Jason Crow was an indispensable member of the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs. He dutifully served veterans across the state – from his tireless efforts helping bring the new VA hospital to Aurora, to his work on the homelessness facility in Fort Lyon that served veterans. Jason was a tremendous asset in this completely volunteer role who went above and beyond to serve.”

 

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comment from a Crow campaign spokesman.

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.