DENVER – Still reeling from fresh charges of race-baiting over a controversial attack ad, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood) is now facing allegations of influence peddling amid revelations that the lawmaker’s wife in 2008 lobbied Members of Congress on behalf of a company that lost more than a half billion dollars in taxpayer money.
Perlmutter’s opponent, Republican Joe Coors, upped the ante in the hotly contested House race on Friday when he released a new TV ad highlighting Rep. Perlmutter’s support for a spending bill that benefitted the solar firm Solyndra – a firm that paid his then-wife Deana for lobbying services in 2008.
“[Congressman Ed] Perlmutter went to Washington and Mrs. Perlmutter became a lobbyist for Solyndra, the solar energy company that lost half a billion taxpayer dollars,” the voice in the Coors ad says. “Congressman Perlmutter voted for the bill. Lobbyist Perlmutter got paid. And taxpayers got scammed.”
Also at issue is whether or not the three-term incumbent broke a pledge that Deana, a lobbyist, would not lobby Members of Congress.
“When Congressman Perlmutter campaigned for his first term in Congress, he assured Coloradans that his then-current wife ‘would not lobby him or any member of the U.S. House,’” said Coors spokeswoman Michelle Yi, citing a commitment Perlmutter made during his first run for Congress back in 2006.
But federal lobbying reports suggest that Rep. Perlmutter may have violated that commitment shortly after making it.
The reports reveal that Deana lobbied members of the U.S. House in 2008 on behalf of Solyndra, for which she was paid $140,000.
Solyndra collapsed in 2011 after receiving more than $500 million in taxpayer subsidies.
ProgressNow, a left-wing group, moved quickly to attack the Coors campaign, issuing a statement just hours after the Coors ad went live.
“ProgressNow Colorado calls on Joe Coors to immediately take down this deceptive ad,” said the group’s Executive Director Joanne Schwartz. “The people of Colorado’s Seventh District deserve better than these lies.”
The Colorado Observer asked ProgressNow to specify exactly which of ad’s claims they believed to be false, but the group did not respond.
Other groups were less charitable.
“Ed Perlmutter has no boundaries when it comes to ripping off hard working taxpayers to pad his own bank accounts,” said T.Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the free-market advocacy group Compass Colorado. “Taxpayer-subsidized renewable energy may have cost us billions, but it sure proved to be a lucrative payoff for the Perlmutters.”
The questions of improper influence are the latest in a series of challenges for the embattled Rep. Perlmutter, who was dogged by missteps and controversy all summer.
Rep. Perlmutter drew criticism in July for appearing on Face the Nation to campaign for stricter gun controls in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Aurora theater shootings.
He came under fire again for politicizing the shootings just days later after he cited the theater slayings as a justification for his vote in favor of ObamaCare during an online forum.
The Congressman then found himself in hot water once again after producing a divisive TV ad making the questionable claim that Mr. Coors outsourced American jobs to Asia. The racially charged spot prompted critics to call for the lawmaker to apologize for the ad’s content.
The Coors Solyndra ad, dubbed “Scammed,” can be viewed below.