Dem Challenger Pushing Gun Control Works at Law Firm That Lobbied Against Colorado’s New Measures

Wants Republican incumbent to return NRA donations, but his law firm has represented significant pro-gun interests

Rep. Mike Coffman / Getty Images

A Democrat running for the House in Colorado attacked his Republican opponent for taking money from the "gun lobby" despite being a partner at a law firm that has done significant legal and lobbying work on behalf of pro-gun interests, including opposing a bill that limited magazine capacity and another that expanded background checks.

Democratic challenger Jason Crow recently released an online ad attacking incumbent Republican representative Mike Coffman, saying, "This is another perfect example of Mike Coffman and his failed leadership—the tens of thousands of dollars that he has taken from the gun lobby."

Coffman represents Colorado's 6th Congressional District, the most competitive house district in the state. In the previous two cycles, Coffman has defeated a former Colorado speaker of the house as well as a former Colorado senate president.

Since 2009, Crow has worked for Holland & Hart, a law firm with offices nationwide, including Denver. He became a partner in the firm in 2017.

The Denver office of Holland & Hart has done lobbying work on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Magpul Industries for a number of years, according to lobbying records with the Colorado secretary of state's office. Most relevantly, the law firm performed that work in 2013 and 2014 to fight the state general assembly's new gun control restrictions, legislation crafted in large part as a reaction to the 2012 Aurora theater shooting massacre that killed 12 and wounded 58.

In other words, the firm Crow was a part of lobbied for positions on bills that were identical to the positions of the National Rifle Association.

No representative from either Crow's campaign or Holland & Hart returned a request for comment.

Magpul Industries was a flashpoint in the Colorado gun control debates because they were the manufacturer of an ammunition magazine used by the Aurora theater killer. As the general assembly debated and then finally passed a bill that limited sales of new magazines to those with a 15-round maximum capacity, Magpul threatened to leave Colorado, a threat they carried out in 2015 when they transferred their manufacturing operations to Texas and Wyoming.

Holland & Hart also serves as outside counsel for Magpul, and as such wrote a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, urging him to veto the magazine limits. Hickenlooper, however, signed the controversial bill, making it law.

Records from the secretary of state's office do not provide enough information to determine how much Holland & Hart has been paid over the years to lobby on behalf of Magpul and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Less than two days after the massacre at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Crow called on Coffman to return political donations from the NRA, which drew a swift reaction from Coffman's campaign manager, Tyler Sandberg.

"Shame on Jason Crow," Sandberg told Colorado Politics. "Mike is heartbroken over what happened in Florida and believes this country needs to get laser-focused on mental health reform. There is a reason that Mike has the strong support of law enforcement leaders across the district—he is passionately dedicated to keeping our communities safe while protecting fundamental constitutional rights."

In all of his congressional campaigns combined, Coffman campaign committees have received $34,700 from the NRA. The NRA has also supported Coffman's campaigns with outside spending totaling just over $67,000.

Crow is facing three other Democrats in the primary this June. One of them, Levi Tillemann, has accused the party of already putting its thumb on the scales in favor of Crow, saying that Minority Whip Steny Hoyer encouraged him to drop his race to help a consolidation behind Crow.