U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., spoke about topics including health care and partisan politics Monday morning with about 25 Steamboat residents, including, seated from left, Anna Fields, Myron Fields and Vesna Palmer.

Photo by Mike Lawrence

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., spoke about topics including health care and partisan politics Monday morning with about 25 Steamboat residents, including, seated from left, Anna Fields, Myron Fields and Vesna Palmer.

Bennet hears frustrations during Steamboat visit

Senator talks health care, finance, partisan politics



■ Learn about the 2010 campaign of current U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat, at www.bennetforcolorado.com. Learn more about U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, also a Denver Democrat, on the Web at www.andrewromanoff.com.

■ For information on Republican senatorial candidate and former Colorado lieutenant governor Jane Norton, visit www.janenortonforcolorado.com. Two other Republican candidates also are vying for Bennet’s seat. They are businessman Tom Wiens (www.tomwiens.com) and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (www.buckforcolorado.com).

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet heard and voiced a lot of frustration Monday morning.

In an informal meeting with about 25 Steamboat Springs residents at the Blue Spruce Court home of Jack Dysart and Carole Milligan, Bennet unabashedly acknowledged the challenges of legislating in a Congress that he said is broken by special interests, a stalling health care bill marked by “offensive” backroom deals and a health care debate that’s “completely unmoored from the facts of what people are dealing with in their daily life.”

Bennet is a Democrat and former superintendent of Denver Public Schools. He visited Steamboat while the Sen­ate is on its extended Presidents Day break. His Monday itinerary in the city also included a fundraising luncheon. Bennet, who Gov. Bill Ritter appointed to the Senate, is running for election this year and facing a primary challenge from Denver Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former Colorado Speaker of the House.

Like Romanoff, who visited Steamboat earlier this month, Bennet strongly criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 21 decision giving corporations the same free speech rights as individuals and potentially opening the floodgates for corporate dollars in political campaigns.

Bennet called the ruling “a horrible decision” and cited a bill he is co-sponsoring that he said would improve transparency of campaign spending by large corporations, restrict such spending by foreign corporations, require shareholder votes on campaign spending, require CEOs to claim political ads as their own, and more.

When Steamboat residents Lynn Abbott and Steve Lewis asked whether the bill is “just a Band-Aid” for needed campaign finance reform, Bennet disagreed, working with the analogy to call the bill “a very important suture” and listing its potential benefits.

But he also acknowledged the nature of today’s political system.

“There’s no way to compete for this office without raising $12 million,” Bennet said about his election campaign, citing fundraising totals from Senate races in recent elections.

Bennet raised more than $1.1 million in the past three months of 2009, compared to about $337,000 for Romanoff. Bennet has about $3.5 million on hand compared to $480,000 for Romanoff.

Regarding the health care debate, Bennet said sticking points such as how to address abortion are holding up progress on legislation that has stalled in Congress. He said Congress temporarily has shifted its focus.

“We’ve got to get the jobs bill done, then we’ve got to go back to health care,” Bennet said.

Bennet responded quickly to a question about what he took away from Monday’s give-and-take with local Democrats.

“An incredible and completely understandable frustration with the Senate,” he said. “On the Senate floor, I spend a lot of my time repeating stories I hear in rooms like this.”

President Barack Obama is slated to attend a rally and fundraisers for Bennet in Denver on Thursday.


greenwash 7 years, 2 months ago

Bennet hasnt earned the right to be our senator.Romanoff is a much better pick.glad to see Ritter go hopefully Bennet will go right along with him.


JLM 7 years, 2 months ago

This meeting is typical of what is wrong with politics. The entire discussion focuses on the "funding of elections" rather than on solving the problems which plague our country.

The number one job of all elected officials is ------------------- getting re-elected. This report simply confirms that sad reality.

This guy's expertise is education and not a word on the subject is spoken. It is truly a travesty.

While a toxic and unlikely health care bill is allowed to marinate in its own poisonous juices memorializing unholy political payoffs and vote buying corruption, this guy is preparing legislation which will impact his own chances of survival and re-election.

He thinks that this is "frustration" --- just wait until November. He will find out it is "anger" and a call to action. He is no worse than any of the others of both parties but he is also no better. Colorado deserves better.


freerider 7 years, 2 months ago

What Bennet should have said is " you have all been sold out " the corporations have you by the balls and they are sqeezing them hard and laughing all the way to the corporate bailed out banks....bye bye middle class , bye bye Bill of Rights . Hello corporatism or I prefer to call it Fascism . Protect the corporate rights at all costs and screw everybody else....The sad thing is alot of multi-national corporate money comes from China , Japan , Saudi oil money etc. etc. which means the American political system isn't being run by Americans anymore....I just read an interesting article in a civil engineering magazine that is a good example of what's happening out there . The U.S.A. is sitting on top of the world's largest oil reserve's almost 2 trillion barrels ...only the E.P.A. won't let anybody tap the reserves ...here's the kicker , The Saudi's or OPEC are paying off the E.P.A. to prevent us from tapping in...this oil can be brought in at about $16 a barrel ... are you pissed off yet ??? ....you should be


Steve Lewis 7 years, 2 months ago

JLM, You have it backwards.

The current funding of elections IS the number one problem with Washington. Why is it so evil for us to talk about it? This was not a discussion of how to raise money; it was a discussion of how to limit it.

Other topics were discussed. Mike just reported on the main one.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Green about Romanoff. I doubt DC will "police" itself with any real campaign finance law.

So rather than law, it will take ethical backbone to reform Washington. It will take spine to turn that big industry money down, and Romanoff has done far better than others in this race by refusing corporate and PAC money.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 2 months ago

With apologies for multiple posts...

Bennet made a good point worth repeating. Today's technology has afforded so many news outlets that we are able to choose the news slant we prefer, creating a virtual echo chamber for ourselves. In that environment faulty arguments persist on both sides that otherwise wouldn't survive.

Sound familiar?


JLM 7 years, 2 months ago

@ steve #1 ---

I agree completely that the current funding of elections is the number one problem with Washington and there is certainly nothing evil about talking about it. The Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to participate in the American electoral system on an equal footing as unions, 537s, PACs, partnerships and individuals is what has created all those big Democrat alligator tears.

The real debate is how to protect the disproportionate power of unions --- only 7% of American labor is unionized --- to allocate funds to the Democrats while failing to consult with their membership. If you are a Republican union member, the management of your union is going to support the Democrats with "your" money regardless of what your personal views might be.

While you may characterize the discussion as one of how to "limit" funding, I am willing to bet that not a word was said about "limiting" union funding --- only corporate funding.

For me --- let's remove all funding above $1000 per candidate personal checks written by a natural person. No lobbyists. No corporations. No unions. No PACs. No 527s. No foreign individuals. No untraceable credit cards. No bundling. No "in lieu of". No Internet wizardry.

Nothing but small personal checks.

Show me where you invest your time and energy and I will show you where your true interests lie!


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