Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner told a Colorado news site that he wants Democratic Sen. Mark Udall investigated for allegedly trying to bully the state insurance commissioner into lowering the number of people whose insurance policies were canceled under Obamacare.
“I think anytime you have an office that is caught red-handed in a hostile phone call where they are trying to change what is recognized as legitimate numbers for political purposes, that’s an inappropriate use of government power,” Gardner told the Colorado Observer.
“It’s clear from the emails the senator wasn’t worried about the 250,000 people who lost their insurance, he wanted to change the numbers so it didn’t look bad.”
The website Complete Colorado reported last week that Udall’s staff emailed the insurance division in November to push back against its figure of 250,000 cancelations under the Affordable Care Act.
Udall’s staffers wrote that the number was misleading, because most of those whose policies were canceled had the opportunity to renew them. But insurance officials didn’t budge.
“Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong,” wrote Jo Donlin of the state Division of Insurance in an email to her colleagues. “They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers.”
In another message, she wrote that she had a “hostile” phone call from Udall’s deputy chief of staff.
But insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar downplayed the issue when she was questioned by a confirmation panel Tuesday, saying Udall’s spokesman “wanted to see what were the options that his constituents had and that was the framework I received questions.”
She added that the inquiry was similar to a letter sent by Gardner asking about the numbers.
But Gardner told the Observer that Salazar, a Democrat, was simply covering for Udall.
“But look, I understand why,” he said. “She’s a Democratic appointee and she is answering to a Democratic governor who is doing everything he can to try and cover for one of the most vulnerable U.S. senators in the nation for an election coming up in just a few months. So the spin room is in full gear trying to cover the trail of a senator who tried to cook the books, and she’s unfortunately taking the fall.”
Gardner also said that he’s talked with members of the House Oversight Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee about opening an investigation into the matter.
“[T]here are 250,000 Coloradans who deserve an answer,” he said.
Gardner’s office did not respond to an email from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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