The Colorado Republican Party chairman asked the Denver police chief yesterday to shed more light on whether the state’s U.S. Attorney nominee, Stephanie Villafuerte, used a restricted federal database to help the 2006 campaign of Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.
State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams sent a letter to Denver police chief Gerry Whitman urging him to respond to questions raised by statements from Villafuerte, Ritter and Denver’s Assistant District Attorney Chuck Lepley last month. The statements, which were submitted to The Denver Post, dispute the database allegations and have drawn the Denver Police Department into the controversy.
The Villafuerte camp claims that her disputed contacts with the DA’s office in October 2006 concerned an alleged threat against then-candidate Ritter, not about accessing a database for political purposes, which could be a crime.
Lepley said nearly two years ago that he “probably” discussed the alleged threat with Whitman and other police department officials, according to federal court testimony obtained by The Post about the matter. Whitman declined to comment to the newspaper about whether he spoke to Lepley about the matter. The police department never generated a report or any other documents about the alleged threat, according to The Post.
In yesterday’s letter, the GOP leader Wadhams wrote: “Chief Whitman, I believe you have been put in a very uncomfortable and unfair position by Ms. Villafuerte, Governor Ritter, and the Denver District Attorney’s office by their rather creative explanations of their actions, but the public deserves a clear answer from you and your department.”
A spokesperson for the Denver Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Main Justice on Wadham’s letter.
Wadhams has been highly critical of Villafuerte for her reported conversations with staffers in the Denver District Attorney’s office about an illegal immigrant who was featured in an ad against Ritter produced by his opponent, Republican Bob Beauprez.
But Villafuerte, who is Ritter’s deputy chief of staff, told the FBI in 2007 that she had “no conversations” with the DA employees about the undocumented immigrant, Carlos Estrada-Medina, who is also an alleged heroin dealer, The Post reported in October.
Republicans charge that Villafuerte is being treated differently in the matter than U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Cory Voorhis, who lost his job after accessing the same database on behalf of the Beauprez campaign.
“Colorado deserves better than a U.S. Attorney who apparently might have used her former employer, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, for blatant partisan political purposes,” Wadhams said in an October letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.