Truth Test: Gardner's green energy re-brand

KUSA— There's been a lot of arguing over energy this election cycle. Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner decided it was time for a rebrand in his latest TV ad.

Welcome to the intersection of marketing and politics: When your brand needs a facelift, sometimes you have to confront a bad reputation head-on, which is what Cory Gardner does on camera in one of his newest ads.

"So what's a Republican, like me, doing at a wind farm," Gardner asks the camera.

Politically, what he's doing is pushing back against all the attacks from Democrats, which we've covered in prior Truth Tests, painting him and his fellow Republicans as puppets of the oil industry.

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This is the backdrop for the tagline in Gardner's new commercials: "a new kind of Republican."

Here's what he offers as evidence that he's greener than his opponents make him out to be:

CLAIM: Gardner "co-wrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry."

VERDICT: Overstated

This is overstated.

It's true Gardner sponsored a 2007 bill in the state legislature that created a clean energy development authority.

The idea was for that group to help jumpstart projects for clean energy. It ended up actually doing—not a lot.

Before it was disbanded in 2012, CEDA filed its last annual report, stating, among other things:

  • "CEDA has not financed or refinanced any projects, either within or outside the state. CEDA has not issued any bonds."
  • "CEDA does not have an Executive Director or other employees."
  • "The CEDA Board has determined that it will not develop a Three Year Plan and mission statement."
  • "No formal decisions were made by the CEDA Board in 2011."

The report repeatedly blamed the law that Gardner is touting for its own lack of progress, citing "practical limitations bounded by the CEDA statute."

The Gardner campaign, of course, knows this. It provided 9NEWS the following explanation (emphasis not added.)

  • "Cory says that he co-wrote a law "to launch our state's green energy industry," not that launched it."

Gardner seems to have acted with good intentions for green energy by advancing this bill, but the ad glosses right over the fact that the goal of the bill was never accomplished.

If he wanted to boast green credentials, Gardner could have talked about supporting the wind production tax creditinstead, but he worked on that with Mark Udall.

Including it wouldn't make Gardner stand apart.

CLAIM: Gardner is "working across party lines to encourage the natural gas our economy needs."

VERDICT: True, but needs context.

Gardner introduced a bill in the House this year designed to speed up exports of natural gas.

That plants his flag next Mark Udall, who also introduced a billwith that goal around the same time.

The Udall campaign accuses Gardner of following the Senator's lead because Udall's bill was introduced the day before Gardner's.

That criticism isn't really fair because the bills were different.

Udall's bill aimed at easing exports to specific country. Gardner's was aimed at speeding the construction of natural gas export facilities.

Gardner's bill passed the House. Udall's is still awaiting action in the Senate.

BOTTOM LINE: This ad takes a victory lap for one clean energy policy that died on the launch pad. On another, natural gas, Gardner takes credit for a real policy he advanced, but that also happens to be reaching for the same goal as his opponent.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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