John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper

Is funding for a wastewater treatment plant in De Beque corrupt? How about a mobile preschool for kids across the Roaring Fork Valley who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend pre-K? Or a law enforcement training facility in Meeker? Which of these is evidence that Congress is trying to “buy votes and waste taxpayer money?”

Colorado 3rd Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert recently announced that she had reconsidered and now supports congressionally directed spending, or earmarks as they’re sometimes known. She defended this change of heart by saying that she helped “fix” the process by stripping out “corrupt, vote-buying behavior” that supposedly marred the program over the past two years ("Fixing earmarks, fighting for infrastructure," May 19). (That didn’t stop her from taking credit for these projects once they were passed into law without her support.)

Maybe the $1.4 million for the City of Grand Junction to build affordable housing was the problem. Or the $1 million to build the Glenwood Springs South Bridge Project to provide crucial emergency routes and improved access — funding that was apparently only corrupt when someone else requested it, because she submitted the exact same project for consideration this year. Or money to shore up disaster response efforts in Monte Vista, establish a comprehensive medical care program in Pueblo, and develop a new engineering degree program at Adams State University in Alamosa? You get the idea, and these are only a few of the $60 million in projects over two years we were able to fund across Rep. Boebert’s district. She steadfastly voted against all of them.

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The changes she championed now make funding any projects in the House of Representatives that would shore up rural health, public education, or workforce training, among others, impossible.

Rep. Boebert and I agree that there should be safeguards on the program. But these safeguards were put in place two years ago, under Democratic leadership:

  • Every single project I submit is listed on my website for all to see.
  • Every year, I sign a sworn statement certifying that neither I nor my family have any financial or personal stake in the projects.
  • Applications are restricted to those from nonprofits and local governments.
  • Congressionally directed spending is limited to less than 1% of Congress’ annual budget — far from a blank check.

Furthermore, our office makes every effort to expand access to these resources by holding information sessions across the state, publicizing our application information online, and standing by to answer any questions that Coloradans have about how to submit an application.

The simple truth is that earmarks, congressionally directed spending, or whatever you want to call it, help Colorado get our fair share of federal funding. The funds we requested are our priorities because they are your priorities. We stand behind every single one of them and will keep fighting tooth and nail to make sure Colorado — all of Colorado — gets its fair share every single year. I won’t break the law or my values for this state, but I’ll do damned near everything else to make sure we get the help we need.

I’m glad Rep. Boebert has come around and I look forward to working with her to support all the great work Congress is trying to do for Colorado. But it doesn't make sense to call the last two years’ worth of projects corrupt without telling these communities which of them didn’t deserve the money.

Here is every project we funded across Colorado’s 3rd District over the last two years, despite Rep. Boebert’s opposition:

John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, represents Colorado in the U.S. Senate.

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