Erin Martinez, who survived an explosion in Firestone that killed her husband and brother, has called on a Republican group to take down an ad about the explosion.
“I woke up this morning to hear about a horrifying political ad using images from the explosion and fire that destroyed my life and killed my husband Mark and my brother Joey,” Martinez said through a spokesperson Thursday.
The ad, from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, uses video from the explosion to criticize John Hickenlooper, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. When Hickenlooper was governor, his office received donations from Anadarko Petroleum, which owned the gas line that exploded. One donation came weeks after the explosion.
It accuses Hickenlooper of not doing more to sanction Anadarko, the company that owned the leaky well, because his office took a donation from the driller after the blast. While it’s true that Hickenlooper’s office accepted the money weeks after the Firestone blast, there isn’t proof that his office wasn’t tougher on Anadarko because of it. Hickenlooper’s office also accepted money from Anadarko before the fatal blast.
The ad also says that no one went to jail and there were no fines issued under Hickenlooper’s administration. Both claims are true, but state regulators were waiting to pursue fines until after the National Transportation Safety Board finished its investigation. The explosion was caused by a pipeline that was severed during construction of the home.
The pipeline was attached to a well that was dormant until a few months before the incident. When it was restarted, raw natural gas leaked into the house.
The NTSB, which started its investigation in 2017, didn’t release its final report until October 2019. That was 10 months after Hickenlooper — who was governor from January 2011 to January 2019 — had finished his second and last term. In March 2019, a spokesman for the agency told reporters its investigation, which was originally projected to take 12 to 18 months, was delayed when the lead investigator retired and when the federal government partially shut down in early 2019.
In April 2020, under Hickenlooper’s successor, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, the COGCC approved a record $18.25 million fine — the largest ever issued by COGCC — against Kerr-McGee, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, which acquired Anadarko in August 2019. The company was fined for violating four rules, the COGCC said in its press release.
As for no Anadarko officials being prosecuted, Sharon Jacobs, an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, told us that would have been up to the state attorney general at the time — not Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper wasted no time hitting Gardner over this ad:
Not only is the ad completely false and shamelessly exploits a tragedy, it’s political malpractice to use images of victims of tragedies in their attack ads. Gardner knows the NRSC fucked up royally, that’s why he’s resorting to this:
Sen. Cory Gardner is suggesting the National Republican Senatorial Committee should stop airing a television ad attacking his Democratic opponent, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in an unusual public rebuke of party strategy.
The ad, which criticizes Hickenlooper for accepting political donations from a company whose gas pipeline caused a deadly house explosion in Firestone, Colorado, in 2017, has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats and from Erin Martinez, who survived the accident. Martinez's husband and brother both were killed.In a statement to the Denver Post after the ad began airing, Martinez called the ad “horrifying,” and Hickenlooper and other Democrats have called on Republicans to pull it.
This is the last thing Gardner needs because as Cook Political Report points out, he’s already in a fucked position for re-election:
We know many Democrats and even Republicans already consider Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner to be gone, and this is a race that gives us a bit of pause. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to see a path for Gardner historically, and probably the maximum he might be able to outperform Trump is mid-single digits — right at the 5 points Trump lost the state by last time. But the president is in far worse shape in Colorado and everywhere.
Gardner still has major GOP groups such as the Chamber of Commerce behind him though, and as the immediate past chairman of the NRSC, he retains a lot of loyal allies. He’s also a skilled campaigner and likable, but his alignment with Trump after he shunned him in 2016 may still ultimately be his undoing. Gardner could run a perfect race and still lose this contest, simply because the ground has shifted underneath him since six years ago — he’s performing poorly in the highly-educated Denver area and surrounding suburbs, and may not be able to make up the margins in the rural areas of the state.
“Trump is doing Cory no favors,” said one Colorado Republican. “If Trump loses Colorado by 12 or 13 points, it’s hard to see how Cory can withstand that.”
Lets go all in to make sure Colorado stays Blue this year. Click below to donate and get involved with Hickenlooper, Biden and their fellow Colorado Democrats campaigns: