Jason Crow, D, an attorney, was elected Congressman in Colorado’s District 6 last November, after a 10-year tenure by Mike Coffman, R.
The IJN invited Cong. Crow for an interview, Aug. 22.
What is it like to be a new Congressman?
I love being back in public service. Service to my country is in my DNA, particularly at this time in our history. It is a real honor and very humbling.
This is a watershed moment in our history and it’s nice to be in service to help direct the country in a more positive direction.
How is this a watershed moment?
We’re seeing a debate about who we are as a country and what our future will be. A lot of things are coming out of the White House and this president — it’s no secret that I disagree with what he says and how he’s dividing our country.
In the Army I served with a cross section of America. I saw the diversity of race, religion, ethnicity. We take great strength from our diversity.
Did you see this diversity before you served?
I enlisted at 18 as a private in the National Guard, in Wisconsin. I enlisted in order to help pay for college. I was a private throughout college. When I graduated I went on active duty in the Army.
The Army is really a melting pot of the country. I was exposed to a lot more diversity in the Army. I came out of that experience really with a greater understanding of what makes our country so strong.
But now the American idea is at great risk. Our president is trying to lead or govern by division and that’s antithetical to who we are as a people. I am pushing back on that.
With policy and law. If the administration pursues laws that are unethical or immoral or unconstitutional, I fight back with law. Also, I now have the bully pulpit. I have the ability to get out in front of folks and be very clear about how we are as a country.
We’ll make it personal. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in Colorado. It’s at a decades’ high. I think there’s a connection between the rhetoric spewed from the very top in this country and anti-Semitism.
Hasn’t anti-Semitism been on the rise over the last 15 years?
I think we’ve seen a major spike in last two years. This isn’t a new challenge or problem and history shows that in a very acute way, but there’s a major spike. Data bears that out.
What is your Number 1 policy priority?
Campaign finance reform and democracy reform — redistricting reform, ethics reform.
We [the House] passed HR 1. It aims to bolster the ethics laws and rules governing current and former officials, such as members of Congress sitting on for profit, corporate boards
On campaign finance reform, HR 1 closes loopholes for Superpacs, allowing public financing for campaigns, allowing people running for office to focus on their voters.
My first bill in Congress is called “End the Dark Money Act.” It closes the loophole that enables 501c4s to hide donations to Superpacs.
Now, under IRS law, a 501c4 cannot be used for campaigns or be election-related. It can’t be used for political purposes. But the Republicans put a rider on that that says the IRS can’t spend money to enforce that law.
My bill removes that rider, so that the IRS can enforce existing law — can use existing resources to enforce the law.
On gerrymandering: take politics out of the redistricting process. Colorado is a model for the country.
We have to look at different models of having non-partisan commissions. HR 1 has taken up that general concept. Through it and whatever version of it the Senate would come up with, we will end up with a different system that prevents the current partisanship in the redistricting process.
Should non-partisan redistricting come from the bottom up, from the states, taking their lead from Colorado; or should it come from top down, on the national level?
This needs to be done on the federal level because some states will not follow the lead of Colorado and do this on their own.
But [Senate Majority leader] Mitch McConnell is not taking up HR 1. If we want to have an equitable system, we need to.
Should electors in the Electoral College be allowed to vote for a candidate other than the candidate elected by the voters?
I’m still in listening mode on that issue. I’m hearing people’s views.
There are counter-arguments on both sides.
Demographic trends will cause real challenges with the Senate in particular, especially in rural communities. As more rural states with lower populations have the same representation in the Senate, the votes in those states count more than the votes in other states.
Isn’t that why the Electoral College was devised to begin with?
The problem has become far more acute.
Should a state’s votes for president go to whichever candidate wins the presidential election nationally?
I’m listening on that issue as well. Trying to listen to both sides.
You’ve served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the general direction of your foreign policy?
We don’t have foreign policy under this administration. We’re retreating from active engagement with alliances we’ve had for 70 years which have served us well. We are stronger because of our alliances and friends. We don’t go it alone to advance our interests. We’re retreating from that.
I want to see a reengagement based on mutual respect. Best example, a recent example, is Denmark — the president lodging personal insults against the head of Denmark, cancelling a visit to a country that’s been a close ally for a long time, while cozying up to despots like Vladimir Putin.
One of those alliances, I presume you mean, is NATO. Is the president wrong to demand more money from NATO members?
He is not wrong. But the trend to increase funding goes back several years, going back to the Obama administration. Insulting partners does not work. Insults do not respect our country and our troops fighting alongside the troops of other countries.
Is there a realistic path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
I’m a hopeful person and believe you always have to fight for peace.
Is there a genuinely new method or idea to do that?
Our administration makes it much harder. We have to make sure we’re keeping the door open in negotiations. I don’t believe we’ve done that.
We’re rapidly losing credibility as an arbiter.
We have to prevent damage being done by this president. Trump is closing the door.
Is cutting off aid to UNRWA or to the Palestinian Authority — which pays salaries to families of terrorists who murder Israelis — closing a door? Does the Taylor Force Act close a door?
We need to prevent terrorism. I’ve done a number of things in Congress in the past months to support counterterrorism.
At the same time we have to provide support to build up potential leadership and a good faith partner on the other side.
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