By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, is responding to backlash from a comment he made last Friday to CBS4.

Gardner said “paid protesters” from California and New York are contributing to a flood of phone calls and emails to his office since the election of President Donald Trump.

After the story aired there were Facebook posts urging people to call Gardner and let him know they weren’t paid protesters. Gardner said the comment wasn’t directed at his constituents.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado (credit: CBS)

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado (credit: CBS)

“I hope that Coloradans continue to reach out to our office. It’s important that we hear from Coloradans,” Gardner told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.

Gardner says he has less than 40 staffers and this month alone his office has received 86,000 letters and emails and 22,000 calls and voicemails. He says he knows many of them aren’t from Colorado because they admit it to his staff.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“They get people who’ve seen scripts on social media. They get people who are surprised they even contacted the office because there’s a robocall of some kind that goes into their house and it connects them with the office and they didn’t even want to contact us in many cases and are surprised that they did.”

There are no shortage of ads for paid political activists. Special interest groups hire people all the time to — among other things — protest, and persuade others to protest policies and politicians with whom they disagree.

Gardner says when organized protests flood his office with form emails and scripted voicemails, individual Coloradans have trouble getting through.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I think there are a lot of people with very legitimate concerns and I hope they will continue to contact my office, but what I worry about is a large proportion of people from out of state who are trying to flood and jam our airwaves, so-to-speak, so much that we can’t actually hear from legitimate concerns from Coloradans and that’s what we’ll continue to fight to do.”

Gardner told Boyd he’s set up a special voicemail with unlimited capacity and has staff doing nothing but responding to calls and emails. Staffers are also taking names of people who want to participate in the next town hall in their area.

CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd interviews Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd interviews Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

Gardner says he just held a telephone town hall last week involving 12,000 Coloradans.

Gardner’s communications director told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd that he and other senators hire companies to set up telephone town halls according to Senate rules that require participants be selected randomly from voter rolls.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

Comments (26)
  1. Terry Talty says:

    What evidence did Gardner provide that anyone who contacted his office was paid? If he did you didn’t write it down. And where did you get these facts:
    “There are no shortage of ads for paid political activists. Special interest groups hire people all the time to — among other things — protest, and persuade others to protest policies and politicians with whom they disagree.” ?

    And why would this opinion of yours have any relevance to Gardner’s assertion? Did anyone ask the senator what all these people are advocating? Surely they don’t just call and say ‘healthcare.’
    It is my humble opinion, you should ask him what they are saying – and you should ask for evidence to support his answer.

    Please ask. I’d like to know how many people have contacted him to congratulate him on allowing insurance companies to deny people because of pre-existing conditions.

  2. This is Gardner TOTALLY covering up the reporting out of Durango-read the article-we had 55+ gather to say that he had No voicemail, NO staffer, we had tried and tried to reach somebody through his office. The Durango Herald called all 8 of his Colorado offices and 3 of them had no answer and no voicemail.

  3. Gardner is getting legitimate calls. He just has no intention of listening to the people of this state. He must not be reelected as he does not represent the people of Colorado. He will not even state his position on his vote for cabinet members, defunding planned parenthood, ACÁ, immigration, detrimental effect on Colorado farmers with Trump position with Mexico. I will not pay for a stupid wall. Gardner must go. He is a partisan coward with no intention of hearing his constituents. #CoryGardnermustgo. He cares nothing about Colorado’s best interest or our wishes.

  4. LOL the robocall thing sounds like a pure lie. Everybody gets robocalls and they’re either politicos looking for a vote for themselves or a scammer. #resist

  5. Diane Burton says:

    This guy is nuts. Every time I call his office I leave my zip code. I email him every day. I’m a constituent. From Colorado. Whether he likes it or not, I live in his state. He’s taking acting lessons from the King of Alternate Facts. 2500 people marched in Fort Collins yesterday outside his office. I’ll bet many of them would be surprised to learn that they are paid protesters from California. Oh, and Fort Collins is in Colorado, by the way.

  6. When I called Sen. Corey Gardner, I saw fit to remind him that protest in this country started with dumping tea into Boston Harbor, which if you’re watching closely wasn’t a stamp act issue. It was favorable laws passed to make money for an international corporation, the East India Trading Company.
    The Hon. Cory Gardner is not behaving in an honorable fashion at this point, falsely claiming to that he is representing tens of thousands of people but is not answering his constituents; I find an egregious fault in him that sixteen people were arrested at his office. IMHO The Hon. Cory Gardner’s response should be “Free them, they were exercising their right of free speech and the people’s right to assemble for redress of grievances.” The fact that I have written letters and calls, and to hear them characterized as paid people from out of state, disparages and invalidates my concern, and makes me feel that issues that are important to me are not being heard.

  7. You need to have a live town hall meeting, and you will see with your own eyes and perhaps then acknowledge that many of your constituents do not feel represented by you, heard by you. Better yet, travel around Colorado and have a series of town hall meetings. You need to listen and not ignore us.

  8. Lori Morris says:

    This is NOT good enough! We have no voice with this senator, and I will be making sure that is remembered in 2020! How is it that you negate our phone calls, and expect that we trust you’re going to have some phone town hall with us? That’s ridiculous. I WANT TO TALK TO YOU, MR. GARDNER! A tiny chance to voice my concerns on a phone call that will likely never come is NOT good enough. I am a Colorado voter, and I have a right to be heard. You work for US. If you had any respect for your constituents and think we’re not being heard because of out-of-state callers, you’d be back here having in-person town hall meetings with the residents of your state. Instead, you’re stabbing us all in the back by pretending to understand what Colorado wants.

  9. Tracy Kelley says:

    CBS- what is the special “never full” voicemail? Because I tried calling 2 minutes ago, and I get only a message that the voice mail is full.

  10. Why can’t we get a fact-driven report on this, Shaun Boyd? Gardner says “many” and a “large proportion” of the calls/letters he’s received are from out of state/paid protestors. Not sure about you, but those phrases BEG for a follow up question. You’re the journalist, but let me suggest a couple of ideas… “what proportion of the calls your staff receives are from out of state protestors?” “What information do you collect to validate which callers are paid?”. THIS is the information that would be newsworthy, not the fluff you keep putting out.

  11. Why would anyone from another state waste their time to call Cory Gardner, when they are more than likely having trouble connecting with their own senators? He’s lying, deflecting, and spinning, and shame on you for letting him get away with it. He’s subscribing to conspiracy theories and unfortunately taking the “madness” path that Trump has descended into. No more lying, Cory.

  12. What’s with the links on this site being ads? To be a service you should provide links for us to get more information or hopefully to take action on the subject you’re reporting on. My goodness.

  13. I have emailed Senator Gardner’s office to ask when town halls will be scheduled and about the opportunity to participate and I have received no response.

  14. We’re not paid protestors. We’re concerned citizens. As one of Gardner’s constituents, I’d prefer he serve Colorado and Coloradans best interests instead of pandering to Wall Street, DC lobbyists, and a president the majority of Coloradans did not vote for. I would appreciate if he wouldn’t diminish his fellow Coloradan efforts to reach out to him and to peacefully protest.

  15. Now is not the time for puff pieces. We are not paid protesters. We are Gardner’s constituents. For our Senator to marginalize us, he has to be completely out of touch with reality. There is an uprising brewing. Things are not normal. A news outlet who fails to recognize what is happening among the people of Colorado and throughout America becomes irrelevant quickly.

  16. Kay DuShane says:

    What a softball interview! Scripted calls don’t necessarily mean paid or unworthy callers. It means we write it down before calling so we don’t forget what we want to say. Gardner’s “special” voicemail doesn’t exist, at least as of this morning – I still can’t get through to his office. And he still needs to show up at a REAL town hall – the telephone town halls are the epitome of “scripted and paid,” and are his way of dodging his constituents.

  17. Shame on Shaun Boyd for not calling out Gardner’s ridiculous B.S.! He’s utterly transparent and not believable.

  18. Senator Gardner, you say you are worried that your phone lines are being flooded by paid protestors. We are not paid protestors. Additionally, if you are really worried that your constiuents are not being heard, why won’t you meet with us at an IN PERSON town hall meeting. We do not feel we are being heard. We do not feel like our voices are being counted because you are avoiding us. If you truly had an over the phone town hall, why were none of your constituents that I know invited on this call. Why did none of us know about it ahead of time? I can only assume that if you did indeed have this town hall meeting over the phone, you only invited registered Republicans. You need to serve ALL of us. You need to listen to All of us. We pay your salary. We are watching you. We will not forget how you are treating us and how you vote.

  19. Corey Gardner sucks. I am a Colorado constituent. He comes from the same cloth a Mike Coffman.

  20. Thomas Weeks says:

    I don’t think everyone knows the rules about only calling YOUR senators and congress person, but that doesn’t make someone paid. Maybe there are some paid people, But I would think it is more likely people from out of state, who are unpaid, who are trying to get the maximum effect by trying to influence senators from other states. Anyway, I’m not paid and I’m going to start sending postcards since the lines are always jammed by unpaid Coloradans trying to call. Bennett’s phone was also jammed.

  21. We’re not paid, we’re organized.

  22. I’m curious about the special unlimited voicemail — every time I call his DC office, including today, I get a message that the mailbox is full. The Denver number just forwards to the DC office, with the same result of a full mailbox. Today I finally called his Fort Collins number so that I could leave a message.

  23. Sen Gardner, Your insistence that paid protesters are responsible for contacting your office speaks to your unwillingness to take your constituents concerns seriously. Your Town Hall invitees computer generated from a list of voter registrations is reprehensible. Your Townhalls should be open to ALL constituents in your district. High School gyms are a good place to start. Sen. Bennett and Rep Perlmutter hold real town halls. #HearUsCory #NotPaid

  24. I have asked to be included on any information for town halls and to get an invite to town halls and I haven’t seen anything. There is no information on his various web platforms and while I’ve asked his staffers about when town halls are scheduled, I’ve never been given the information in this story nor told how I can attend. Dig deeper, his answers still aren’t substantiated. Can he show you call tally information to back up his claims that it’s paid protesters? Or SOME kind of evidence that it’s “a large proportion” of those who call? Investigate please, Ms. Boyd. His responses still lack evidence.

  25. Kaye Dyer says:

    Gardner, listen up. Even if people call you from New York, Hawaii,California remember you may have been elected by only Colorado but, you, when you vote, create the laws, etc for the whole of We the People.
    So, perhaps you better listen to all of We the People because you are actually an ass to all 50 states.

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