Republican Colorado congressional candidate Cory Gardner is fundraising with a lobbyist for BP on Thursday, in what appears to be the first time since oil started leaking in the Gulf that a lawmaker is willingly rubbing elbows with an influence peddler for the oil giant.
But if you looked at the fundraising appeals being sent from Gardner's campaign, you'd get the impression that his opponent, Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), is the one soaking in K Street's cash.
"Special interests have let it be known that money will not be an object in their effort to reelect Betsy Markey," Gardner wrote in a campaign email on Thursday. "In addition to lobbyist Brian Wolff trying to save her campaign, the Apollo Alliance, an activist environmental group, is currently running a television ads on behalf of Betsy Markey."
"With the enormous amount of money special interests are spending to reelect Betsy Markey, defeating her is going to be an uphill battle. Will you contribute today to push back against the special interests and help me bring reform to Washington?"
It's far from novel politics for a lawmaker to accuse his or her opponent of feeding from the special interest trough at the same time they're doing the same. But to argue that case the same day you are fundraising with a lobbyist for one of the more loathed companies in the country right now is to exhibit a particularly noteworthy form of chutzpah.
"Mr. Gardner isn't a member of Congress yet, but attending high-dollar fundraisers with insider lobbyists shows his constituents he's up for the challenge," said Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund.