The governor set off a fresh round of outrage at a recent forum in Aspen with county sheriffs who sued over the legislation, first by apologizing for failing to meet with them during the debate, and then by insisting he never spoke to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the bills.
Unfortunately for Hickenlooper, Complete Colorado ran a story after the Friday forum that included photos of phone logs obtained through an open-records request showing two incoming calls from Bloomberg on March 2, at the height of the legislature’s gun-control battle.
In a Revealing Politics video, Hickenlooper responds to a question by Weld County Sheriff John Cooke by saying, “Let’s stick to the facts. I never talked to Mayor Bloomberg.”
That’s not all. During the Aspen meeting, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell posted a paragraph about Hickenlooper’s remarks on Facebook that has since gone viral.
“The Colorado sheriffs are currently in a meeting with Colorado Governor Hickenlooper,” the post said. “The governor apologized to the sheriffs for not listening to them prior to passing the new gun bills. The governor admitted his office did not research the gun legislation until after it was passed. Governor Hickenlooper said he didn’t realize it was going to cause such controversy and had he known he would not have endorsed the new gun laws without more research.”
A Hickenlooper spokesman confirmed to 9News that the governor had in fact apologized to the sheriffs for not meeting with them prior to signing the bills.
Cooke said that while he appreciated the apology, he doubted that Hickenlooper didn’t realize the sheriffs wanted to meet with him about the gun bills.
“I don’t know how he can claim that he wasn’t aware that sheriffs had concerns when we had published a paper, which got media attention, we continually showed up in force at the state capitol to testify against the bills, which got a lot of media attention, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith tried to contact him several times,” said Cooke on Facebook. “On this issue, our governor is either uninformed or his staff failed him. Take your pick.”
Republican gubernatorial candidates were quick to pounce on the issue. In a campaign blog post, former GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez called Hickenlooper “more Barney Fife than Andy Griffith.”
“It’s unbelievable that this governor would steal the liberty of Coloradans and then apologize–not for the taking–but the outpouring of anger from both sheriffs and law-abiding Coloradans,” said Beauprez. “This is a governor without leadership or principle. He decides to restrict the rights of Coloradans and months later apologizes for not doing his homework.”
The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners quipped in a statement, “We guess this is the Pelosi tactic of ‘we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.’”
“This raises the question for the governor, if he wins re-election and bills are passed during the next legislative session to repeal the radical anti-gun agenda of 2013, would he sign those bills then? Don’t count on it,” said the RMGO Facebook post.
Spokesman Eric Brown told the Denver Post that the governor misspoke when he said he hadn’t talked to Bloomberg, but that he was “attempting to convey he never had a conversation with Bloomberg that influenced the decision he made.”
Hickenlooper signed three gun-control bills in March 2013, including a measure limiting ammunition magazine capacity to 15 rounds. That bill has been challenged in court by 55 county sheriffs, who are being represented by attorney David Kopel of the Independence Institute.