Villafuerte Nomination Questioned

As The Denver Post reports:

President Barack Obama’s nominee as Colorado’s next U.S. attorney told the FBI two years ago that she never spoke to anyone in the Denver District Attorney’s Office about an illegal immigrant who became a controversial figure in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

FBI interview summaries describe Stephanie Villafuerte as saying she had “no conversations” with anyone at the DA’s office about the illegal immigrant, Carlos Estrada-Medina.

But the FBI apparently never asked Villafuerte, the former chief deputy DA who was then working for Bill Ritter’s campaign, why she left a phone message for DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough that Kimbrough noted was about Estrada-Medina. The FBI also apparently never asked her about the nature of a series of phone calls she exchanged over the next two days with Kimbrough and First Assistant DA Chuck Lepley. Those calls came both before and after an order by Lepley to a subordinate to run a criminal history check of Estrada-Medina in a restricted federal database.

Frankly, we were a little surprised that Villafuerte was nominated to be Colorado’s U.S. Attorney, let alone that she made it out of the top 3 to be the ultimate selection, because this was always floating around and threatening to pop up again. Certainly nobody in Gov. Bill Ritter’s camp wanted to see the questions about Villafuerte and this case emerge yet again, yet they surely would have known this would happen if Villafuerte made it as far as she did in the process.

For some reason the process of selecting a U.S. Attorney always seems to last forever anyway. Given that it took literally years — and several candidates — under the second Bush administration to come up with a new U.S. Attorney in Denver, it wouldn’t surprise us if Villafuerte never actually took office. If these questions get national traction, you’d have to think that there would be discussions about Villafuerte removing her name from consideration — whether there’s any truth to these accusations or not.

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  1. Skip Tracey says:

    Westword reports that Cory Voorhis has been silenced by a judge’s order.

    The GOP has issued a stinging statement telling Villafuerte to speak up or step down.

  2. MADCO says:

    Voorhis accesses NCIC to come up with dirt for R campaign.

    Ritter campaign complains to DA’s office.

    Ritter accuses Beauprez’s campaign of breaking the law to get the information.

    Campaign ends- Voorhis gets into trouble.

    Where’s the mystery or the inequity?

  3. sxp151 says:

    I know reporter Karen Crummy (giggle) seems to think this is a big deal, but as far as I can tell, Beauprez’ campaign accessed a database illegally to find out information about some convict to use it in a campaign ad. Then people in Ritter’s campaign including Villafuerte discussed this among themselves.

    Yet another nontroversy from people desperate to attack Ritter.

    • RedGreen says:

      And then she gave statements to the FBI about those discussions. There are accusations, backed up by some circumstantial evidence about phone messages, that she wasn’t entirely forthcoming with the FBI. That could be a problem.

      • sxp151 says:

        but is there any allegation that she did anything illegal aside from lying to the FBI? (Which of course is not trivial, but still, is there an underlying crime she’s accused of?)

        • RedGreen says:

          but, if true, that ain’t nothing, especially for a potential top federal prosecutor.

          The other part of the story, though, is that some agencies — allegedly at the direction of the Ritter campaign — also accessed the database for purposes other than law enforcement.  

          • Jambalaya says:

            But what if the Ritter campaign asked the Denver DA’s office to check the database in order to determine if the Beauprez campaign broke the law by accessing the database? And the goal of the Ritter campaign and the Denver DA’s office was to blow the whistle on the Beauprez campaign (about its breaking the law)?  Is that a form of law enforcement?

            • RedGreen says:

              that the Ritter backers were trying to figure out how Beauprez could have connected the two names and, in the process, violated the law themselves by accessing the database. I am not sure, but I don’t think what the Beauprez campaign was alleged to have done is n the Denver DA’s jurisdiciton, so doubtful they could make the kind of bootstrapped law-enforcement argument you’re suggesting (tongue in cheek, I’m guessing).

              • jmatt12 says:

                So to save face an avoid admitting that when this name surfaced, that they did the exact same search in the NCIC, the campaign (including Villafuerte) try to cover it up.  It appears that the FBI had no interest in pursuing the case, but regardless, if this story can get some multi-day run, it won’t bode well for Ritter.

                The story appears to be a total hit job by Crummy, but when a reporter raises some legitimate questions and the Governor’s office sends out Dreyer who says that we won’t answer questions until they become moot… What story was she was supposed to write?  If there isn’t in fact a story here, the Ritter office’s handling of it is certainly turning it into one.

                Finally, there is nothing really new to the accusations.  You would think the Governor’s office would have been prepared and out in front of the story.  Not their finest media moment.

  4. Jambalaya says:

    The Post headline is wonderful (“Questions raised…”).  It appears that the only questions about the nomination that are reported are those raised by the reporter.  

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