While outgoing U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner remains in office until the new Congress is sworn in next month, constituents who want to contact the Colorado Republican through his Senate website are out of luck.
The email contact form on Gardner's website disappeared soon after the election, and the "email Cory" link at the bottom of the site's other pages leads to a 404 page that says, "404. We're sorry. The page you requested cannot be found."
Gardner, who lost a bid for a second term last month to Democrat John Hickenlooper, delivered a farewell address on the Senate floor Tuesday. In the 15-minute speech, he called on his soon-to-be-former colleagues to recognize the difference between a principle and a "detail that can be negotiated."
New and returning lawmakers will be sworn in on Jan. 3.
Gardner's eight in-state offices in Colorado shuttered for good on Friday, according to a message reached by calling the senator's Pueblo office. Multiple calls to each of his offices, including the one in Washington, D.C., went unanswered this week.
A Gardner spokeswoman didn't respond to a request for comment.
A Capitol Hill staffer for another Colorado lawmaker told Colorado Politics that Gardner is running a "bare bones" operation since much of his staff has already left for other jobs.
"You're still in your job for a few weeks, Cory. You're still drawing a paycheck," said Matt, a Denver resident who asked that his last name not be used because he's concerned about the "lunatics" who won't accept that Joe Biden won the presidential election.
He told Colorado Politics he's been frustrated since early November trying to reach the senator's office to share his thoughts, something he was regularly able to do before the election.
"He took an oath of office," the man said. "He needs to be serving the people of Colorado at a time when that's more important than ever."
The Republican-controlled Senate has mostly been confirming judicial and other nominations since the election, but lawmakers are considering legislation to avert a government shutdown later this week amid hopes negotiations will yield a COVID-19 relief measure that could extend numerous aid provisions that expire this month.
Four of the other five departing senators had functioning email contact forms on their Senate websites on Wednesday, and the fifth, retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, greeted constituents with messages urging them to get in touch with other members of the state's delegation.
One of Gardner's predecessors, Republican Wayne Allard, took some heat on his way out the door when he stopped taking Coloradans' comments roughly three months before his term expired.
“For many constituents, it’s going to be inexcusable,” Princeton University professor and author Julian Zelizer told The Denver Post at the time. “They’re elected officials, and they’re elected officials until the final day.”
Hickenlooper doesn't officially take Gardner's place as Colorado's junior senator for a few weeks, but the former governor told Colorado Politics through a spokeswoman that he'll be ready to hear from the people he represents.
“Listening to Coloradans is our first priority, and we’re building a world class outreach and constituent services team," Hickenlooper said. "We intend to hit the ground running in January and reach people in every corner of the state."
Spokeswomen for U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jason Crow said they'd be happy to help out constituents who can't reach Gardner's office.
"Our office's top priority is, and always has been, to help the people we represent. If anyone in Colorado's 1st Congressional District needs any assistance at all, our office is always available to help," said DeGette's chief of staff, Lisa Cohen, in a text message.
Noting that Crow's district office staff is working remotely due to pandemic concerns, Anne Feldman, the congressman's communication's director, said: “For any Coloradans in the 6th District who may not be able to get help from Sen. Gardner’s office as they wind down their operation, our door is always open.”
Katie Farnan, the progressive activist who created the "Cardboard Cory" cutout to draw attention to complaints Gardner wasn't meeting with constituents, said it came as no surprise when she discovered weeks ago that Gardner had shut down the contact form.
"I think the taxpayers should ask for a refund for the final two months of his tenure," she said in an email. "The thing is, he’s still out there voting on things, but he’s eliminated any veneer of being accountable or accessible."