DENVER – In his quest to unseat Republican 6th District Congressman Mike Coffman, challenger Democrat state Rep. Joe Miklosi promoted a questionable poll and issued a mailer claiming that he made the heart wrenching decision to cut his own take-home pay.
The poll was devised by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – and Miklosi’s legislative pay cut is claim is absolutely false.
“Do you know what it’s like to tell your wife you want to cut your own take-home pay? I do,” Miklosi says in a glossy 11 x 18 inch flyer with a photo of him breaking the news to his spouse Jennifer at a coffee shop.
“I cut my take-home pay because it was the right thing to do,” asserts Miklosi. “I got elected to the State House 4 years ago, right after the financial crisis. We had to make some tough choices… we decided cutting our own take-home pay would be a good place to start.”
But, Miklosi’s vote didn’t cut a penny of his pay at the state Legislature.
In fact, his four-month salary of $30,000 each legislative session was actually increased by more than $1,200 for serving on the year-round Legislative Audit Committee. Those figures don’t include expense reimbursements, mileage compensation and a $45 per diem per day.
In 2010, Miklosi was one of many Democrat and Republican lawmakers who voted for a two-year freeze on a per diem increase to offset the living and commuting expenses of legislators who live farther than 50 miles from the Capitol.
The freeze affected more than 60 legislators from around the state, who have to lease apartments in Denver during the week and make two roundtrips on the weekends to see their families. They’re the ones who sacrificed and endured the escalating rent and gas costs – and maintained family homes.
Miklosi was never eligible for the per diem increase. According to the Secretary of State’s office, the Democrat legislator lived at 2205 South Holly Street in Denver – just seven miles from the Capitol. After redistricting, he moved early this year to East Jefferson Place in Aurora within the 6th Congressional District – about 12 miles from the gold dome.
Deciding to move into CD6, a Republican activist remarked, might have been difficult news to break to a spouse over a cup of “joe.” But it certainly wasn’t a “take-home pay” cut.
During Miklosi’s tenure in the state House from 2009 – 2012, he earned $120,000 in salary, received more than $26,000 for the $45 per diem per day, $99 per day serving on the Legislative Audit Committee during the interim period, and an unknown amount of reimbursements for mileage and expenses associated with legislative functions.
This isn’t the first time Miklosi has erred.
Miklosi was captured on video bragging about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) taking over his campaign, some of his existing staff members have been demoted or dismissed without pay, and an investigative report by The Colorado Observer recently revealed that Miklosi had employed a convicted drug felon as a fundraising supervisor for more than a year. Miklosi immediately fired the fundraiser after publication of the TCO story.
This week, the DCCC proclaimed Miklosi is within striking distance of Coffman in the CD6 race based on an automated telephone survey of 350 likely voters in November.
“In the trial heat, Miklosi trails Coffman by just three points (39 to 42 percent). As voters get to know the Democratic challenger, this race will likely tighten further,” predicted Aaron Strauss, DCCC director of Targeting and Data.
Coffman’s Communication Director Owen Loftus scoffed and said, “Our campaign doesn’t respond to any politically driven, automated poll that doesn’t release the demographics behind it.”
The DCCC issued a “memo” stating that the poll taken Sept. 13 has a 5.2 percent margin of error, but they did not reveal tabs of respondents’ party affiliation, ages and resident counties.
The DCCC has been conducting early polls in several congressional races to get contributions from donors by convincing them that Democrats can take back the House. But that’s unlikely because the Democrats would need to protect at least 10 vulnerable Democrat seats and win 25 Republican-held seats in the House.
“We have the message, we have the messengers, we have the money, we have the mobilization. We have an excellent chance to take back the House,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Candy Crowley during an interview last Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
The Democratic Party machine and outside committees are pouring millions of dollars into electronic media and mailings, often targeting controversial social issues while avoiding topics like the national debt, budget deficits, sputtering economy and anemic job market.
Miklosi’s “I cut my take-home pay” mailer was paid for by the Colorado Democratic Party, and his mailer accusing Coffman of sacrificing “kid’s health” because of his votes for oil and gas, called “dirty energy,” was paid for by the Friends of Democracy PAC.
Coffman’s campaign retaliated for this first time this week by launching the “Joe’s Tax of the Day” series of emails blasting Miklosi’s legislative votes for tax increases – a combination of taxes, so-called fees and suspended tax exemptions and rebates – since 2009.
Miklosi voted to tax car registrations, rental cars, candy and soda pop, and non-essential food containers including plastic bags. He also voted to suspend a popular property tax break for seniors, which resulted in a $98.6 million tax burden, and supported other levies.
Yet, Miklosi, campaigning as “Not your average Joe,” said that cutting his own take-home pay is “something we could use more of in Congress – in fact, I’m going to fight for a law that says members of Congress don’t get paid at all until they pass a responsible budget.”