Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) on Monday defended his aide, Stephanie Villafuerte, whose nomination to be the state’s next U.S. Attorney is under attack from Republicans, The Denver Post reports.
“I believe Stephanie did nothing wrong,” Ritter said during a radio interview on The Mike Rosen Show on KOA-AM.
Republicans have questioned whether Villafuerte asked employees of the Denver district attorney’s office — which Ritter had once headed — to access a restricted government database to help his 2006 campaign for governor. Asking someone to access the National Crime Information Center database for non-law enforcement purposes can be a crime, according to The Post.
In 2007 Villafuerte told the FBI she had “no conversations” with the DA’s office about Carlos Estrada-Medina, an alleged heroin dealer who had struck a plea deal when Ritter was Denver’s top prosecutor. Ritter’s Republican opponent for governoer, Bob Beauprez, had featured Estrada-Medina in a campaign ad against Ritter.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Cory Voorhis was charged with accessing the NCIC to check the alias of Estrada-Medina – and providing information about it to Beauprez’s campaign for the 2006 ad. A federal jury acquitted Voorhis in the matter, but he was fired from his job.
“[A]s a person working for the campaign [Stephanie] did a host of things to try to independently verify this identity of Carlos Estrada-Medina and could not do it,” Ritter told the radio host. “She had people who were getting public records. We as a campaign employed individuals — interns — to go to the courthouse and get the records. We got nothing from the DA’s office.”
When asked about a voice mail Villafuerte left for the DA’s office’ spokeswoman about Estrada-Medina shortly someone in the office accessed the NCIC records on him, Ritter said: “I think it’s dangerous to just actually take it from logs. Those are one- to two-minute calls, and if you leave a message with somebody it’s logged as a one-minute call,” adding, “They may not have talked at all.”
Villafuerte is nominated to replace Troy Eid, who resigned in January as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado