On summer recess, Rep. Scott Tipton has traveled across Colorado’s 3rd congressional district – Grand Junction, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Towaoc, Pueblo and Beaver Creek – to speak to constituents. At a town hall meeting in Cortez on Tuesday, Aug. 18, he faced frustrated voters.
One woman complained that she was threatened with a $1,000 fine if she failed to provide Census officials with personal information.
Montezuma County Commissioner James Lambert complained that federal officials had money to develop travel management plans but lacked money for weed spray.
Veterans complained that bureaucrats get bonuses while they die waiting for their health care.
Another man complained that the U.S. House should shut down the federal government financially instead of providing amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Wayne Johnson, of the Southwest Colorado Television Translator Association, complained about the potential loss of broadcast capabilities, and a local TV blackout.
Another man complained that the Republican-controlled House and Senate had abandoned voters, giving the president more authority since 2014 than any Democrat before.
“I think you’re wrong,” Tipton said.
“I’m not wrong,” the man countered.
The Cortez Journal asked Tipton to comment about GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s ability to tap into voter annoyances at the national level. Tipton replied that the New York real estate mogul and television personality had obviously hit a nerve, but he quickly pivoted away from the querie.
“When we look at the broader field, there’s a pretty deep bench out there,” said Tipton. “I think Sen. Rubio had it right. We’re lucky we have so many candidates, and the Democrats can’t find one.”
In response, a veteran stood, telling Tipton that no one in Washington, D.C. was being held accountable to voters.
“We’re tired,” the man said. “We are frustrated.”
“I would hate to see some of the repercussions if our leaders don’t start leading.”
Before the complaints started, the town hall meeting began with a legislative update. Tipton boasted that he had introduced bills that would provide local and state officials more authority to mitigate wildfire threats, protect private property water rights and roll back federal regulations to allow greater flexibility for community banks.
“Nationwide, were spending $2 trillion on regulatory costs,” said Tipton. “That makes the cost for a loaf of bread more. It makes the clothes we buy for our kids to go back to school cost more.”
Animas River disaster
In regard to the recent Gold King Mine disaster on the Animas River, Tipton was questioned about the other 230 Colorado mines leaking heavy metals into state rivers. The Denver Post has reported that no agency tracks the total discharge from these abandoned mines, which likely equals to at least one Gold King disaster every two days.
Tipton said “Good Samaritan” legislation was being considered that would make it easier for citizen groups to clean up toxic pollution from abandoned mines.
Marijuana and banking
Asked if he would support pending legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act so bankers could do business with marijuana purveyors, Tipton responded that it was only an issue for states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
“This is not on the Top 10 list for the rest of Congress,” he said.
Tipton acknowledged the issue was a problem, but he reiterated that there were more “practical issues” to contend with at the national level, such as the pending Iran nuclear treaty.
Tipton said that his reading of the treaty gives a state sponsor of terror the ability to obtain intercontinental ballistic capabilities.
“Sometimes you have to take people at their word,” said Tipton. “They’re chanting, ‘Death to America,’ and I believe them.”
Tipton vowed that the House would vote down the nuclear agreement, and he predicted the Senate would follow its lead. However, he said he wasn’t confident that Congress could override a veto by President Barack Obama.
Asked if he had an alternative to the deal, Tipton instead blamed Obama, stating his pursuit of the agreement left few choices.
“We lost a lot of the leverage that we had,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t secure peace, but we may have invited a conflict that we’re not going to like.”