U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) office says it erred in telling Steamboat Springs Republicans that a planned lunch meeting last Friday with Gardner was canceled due the expected presence of protesters, when, in fact, the actual reason for the cancellation was, according to Gardner’s office, to “accommodate” a meeting with Democratic Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger.
But Monger told the Colorado Times Recorder today that he was free to meet with Gardner any time during the day ― not just during lunch.
“I told him I was coming into town just to meet with him, so I could meet with him anytime he wanted to,” Monger said.
Asked if he could have re-arranged his schedule, Monger said:
Monger: “I had some flexibility, yes, and again I was respectful of the senator’s busy schedule and time, and I said, “Well, I’m more than happy to modify my schedule to meet. I appreciated the opportunity to get his ear, and so I said, ‘Whatever works for you guys.’ The scheduler said, ‘Nope, we’re fine with noon. That would be good.’ So i said, ‘That’s great.’”
It appears Gardner had some flexibility in his schedule, or at least enough to be able to stop by the lunch meeting with Republicans at Carl’s Tavern, because Gardner was a half hour late to his meeting with Monger.
“They called me right at noon, and said they’d be a half hour late,” Monger said.
Monger said his meeting with Gardner, which covered health care and other matters, lasted about an hour and a half.
Asked what she thought of Gardner meeting with Monger for an hour and a half, Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski, who’s a Republican, said, “I wish I could have had the same conversation with the senator too.”
“Obviously the people protesting [in front of the restaurant where Gardner had planned to meet with Republicans] were upset with Senator Gardner, and some of the attendees inside were upset with Senator Gardner too,” said Hermacinski.
“I think he should have met with the people he had scheduled lunch with,” said Hermacinski. “I showed up anyway and just had lunch with some of the people who were there. And unfortunately none of us got to ask the senator questions.”
Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know why he didn’t carve out time from his schedule to meet with Republicans at Carl’s Tavern.
Routt County Republican Chair Don Mathis advocated that the meeting go on, even without Gardner.
“My personal feeling is that we continue to have the meeting and do not show weakness to the media, [Routt County Democratic Chair] Cathy Carson, or the protesters,” wrote Mathis in an email, obtained from a source, to local Republicans.
In his invitation to Republicans to attend the Gardner meeting, Mathis wrote in an email, “Please come prepared with brutal truthful questions, concerns and issues for him to answer.”
In May, Monger was featured in a Healthier Colorado advertisement opposing the U.S. Senate’s bill to replace Obamacare.