“My first reaction was, ‘How can you be so stupid?’”
That was former U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colorado Springs, who served the 5th Congressional District for 20 years, responding to a Gazette interview with CD-5′s current congressman, Doug Lamborn. In the interview, which was broadcast on Gazette TV on Thursday, Lamborn said he’d surpassed Hefley.
“I feel like I’ve gone beyond his legacy,” Lamborn said, when asked if he felt that he had proved himself a worthy successor.
Lamborn cited his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and said no other Colorado politician had ever chaired that “important” committee. The subcommittee, he said, oversees two and a half billion acres of public lands, both onshore and offshore. That makes him extremely powerful, he said, because he can help energy companies create jobs. (Lamborn’s comments are at 26 minutes in the interview.)
Lamborn did say that Hefley had chaired the Subcommittee on Armed Services Readiness, “but it’s not as good as the one I’m on now.”
Hefley laughed over the phone when asked about the interview.
“It showed me that Doug is either ignorant or he’s dishonest,” Hefley said. “I thought, ‘what a knucklehead.’”
The former congressman called the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee “relatively minor,” and said he had first chaired the Subcommittee on Military Construction. Then, that subcommittee was merged with Armed Services Readiness, and congressmen started calling it a “supercommittee.”
He also chaired the Subcommittee on Parks and Public Lands, and served at times on the Small Business and Space Committees.
And that left out Hefley’s most famous chairmanship — the House Ethics Committee.
The former congressman made national headlines when he stood up to former Speaker of the House, Tom DeLay, during the infamous scandal when DeLay was busted for money laundering. (DeLay was ultimately sentenced last year to three years in prison.) Under Hefley, DeLay was formally admonished three times.
“We know, and it’s documented, that Doug is very casual with the truth when it comes to campaigns, and I don’t like that,” Hefley said Friday.
Hefley has a longstanding grudge against Lamborn over the 2006 GOP primary, when six local Republicans ran to succeed him, after he announced his retirement. Hefley backed one of his former aides, Jeff Crank, who now is the director of the Colorado chapter of Americans For Prosperity. But after a fiercely negative campaign, Lamborn emerged victorious.
Part of the campaign was an extreme allegation that Crank was associated with “the radical homosexual agenda.” The accusation, which was ridiculed by many Republicans as completely unfounded, was not directly tied to Lamborn, but the congressman was blamed for the incident. Hefley is one of those.
Lamborn’s office did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
Hefley said though he’s spoken with Lamborn’s primary opponent, Robert Blaha, he has not endorsed him. Hefley said he’s going to stay out of the race.