BREAKING: Villafuerte Withdraws

From a delighted Karen Crummy at the Denver Post:

Stephanie Villafuerte has withdrawn her name from consideration to become Colorado’s next U.S. Attorney.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, who nominated her for the post, and Attorney General Eric Holder, Villafuerte said she was confident she would have “served well in this important position” but was withdrawing because of “political attacks” surrounding her role in the 2006 Colorado gubernatorial campaign.

“Unforunately, a needless and extraneous political fight has emerged in Colorado and that fight, in my judgment has completely overshadowed the deliberative and independent assessment of my qualifications for this important office,” Villafuerte wrote. “I continue to stand by my statements and maintain that my involvement was appropriate at all times.”

…U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said he was disappointed by Villafuerte’s “very personal” decision.

“I had a positive conversation with Senator Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Saturday morning in which we both agreed that the confirmation process for this office could, and should, be framed to resolve any remaining questions he or other Members of the Judiciary Committee might want to put to the U.S. Attorney nominee,” Udall said in a statement released by his office.

The real “needless” political fight in our minds could should have been avoided altogether had Sens. Udall and Bennet just picked one of the other three finalists to begin with.

We’re not at all surprised that Villafuerte has withdrawn her name from consideration, but we’re still mystified as to why she made it this far in the process to begin with. Surely Bill Ritter’s office had to know that Villafuerte’s nomination would bring with it a slew of bad press as long as she was yet to be confirmed. The Villafuerte nomination gave Dick Wadhams and Republicans an endless way to continue to attack Ritter with frontpage stories, and we weren’t the only ones who could see these attacks coming the moment her name was announced as the nominee. Fair or not, you knew it was going to happen, and whoever thought they could just slide Villafuerte on through without the GOP using her to batter Ritter was more than a little naive.

Pueblo DA Bill Thiebaut may be next in line according to Crummy and sources we’ve talked to, with John Walsh the other potential name to watch. But as a commenter points out below, Walsh makes more sense because he isn’t a current officeholder; if Thiebaut gets the nomination, Ritter would have to appoint his replacement, which adds an unnecessary layer to a process that has already been politically costly to his re-election. If Thiebaut is the nominee, then there will be more stories about his replacement that will inevitably mention what happened with Villafuerte as background. Walsh is the quickest way to put this process to bed, and he’s more than qualified anyway.  

56 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RedGreen says:

    rising from Crummy’s keyboard:

    Unforunately, a needless and extraneous political fight has emerged in Colorado …

    Filed this so fast she forgot to even spell-check it!

      • Libertad says:

        Is this the fire

        …confirming reports circulating among political “in-the-know” for years, acording to a source who chooses not to disclose their identity.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will review Villafuerte’s nomination for US attorney soon. Senator Max Baucus created controversy by nominating his mistress for a US attorney position, making the Villafuerte’s relationship with the Governor relevant.

        Greg Kolomitz, Governor Ritter’s disgraced former campaign manager, first made the allegations in 2006, when he traded insults with Jim Carpenter, Ritter’s chief of staff at the time.

        • Libertad says:

          I should have included this

          …..Of course, Stephanie Villafuerte denied any affair in the Karen Crummy story. Kolomitz did say he never had proof.

          The aide, who now works in the governor’s office, denied an inappropriate relationship with Ritter. Kolomitz said that to this day he has no knowledge of anything untoward in her relationship with Ritter.

          The FBI investigated Stephanie Villafuerte when the Cory Voorhis firing occurred. The FBI was not seeking to prove or disprove an affair between Ritter and Villafuerte.

          • allyncooper says:

            The FBI investigated Stephanie Villafuerte when the Cory Voorhis firing occurred. The FBI was not seeking to prove or disprove an affair between Ritter and Villafuerte.

            These allegations are all from anonymous sources. Tyler’s story “Was Governor Bill Ritter having an affair with Stephanie Villafuerte?” is like asking the Guv when he stopped beating his wife.

            I don’t give a rats ass if they were having an affair or not, its none of my business or anyone elses. Scrutiny if she acted improperly in the Voorhis matter is. But quite frankly, I haven’t had the time to follow that story.

            I’ve been too preoccupied reading about Tiger.  

  2. guesswho says:

    Congrats Bill Ritter, you have managed to throw another one under the bus….

    • DavidThi808 says:

      I think some very valid questions were raised and we weren’t seeing any substantive answers that held up to scrutiny. Liberal or conservative – I want a U.S. Attorney that doesn’t cut corners.

      • BlueCat says:

        At least in that she did the right thing by withdrawing.  If she didn’t do anything improper then she and  her allies have all completely bungled the opportunity to make that clear.  She isn’t the only qualified person on the planet for this position.  This has been a distraction long enough.  Time to move on.

          • Craig says:

            So when anyone makes a nasty allegation against any nominee, we just give in and have their nomination withdrawn.  That’s among the stupidest things I have ever seen on this site.  Can you say no government?  Of course, I suppose that’s just what a lot of you neo-cons would like.  But really, don’t we want a federal prosecutor in Colorado and isn’t the President entitled to his choice.  

            Frankly, I simply don’t believe any of the gossip about an affair between Ritter and Villefuerte, and I’ve known both of them for a very, very long time. And furthermore, why should we care?  Some of the finest politicians this country has ever had have been known adulterers.  (Ben Franklin never married the mother of his children, Thomas Jefferson had affairs and children with slaves, Jack Kennedy was a serial adulterer etc.) Frankly, it’s about time that someone in public office or seeking it had the balls to challenge some of these ridiculous rumor mongers on their crap.  If a newspaper has got the evidence, then just print it.  If not, then frankly, you’re guilty of slander and you ought to be sued.  At least when the Post had the goods on Bill Owens it was kind enough to run a thinly veiled column saying that if he went forward with a Senate run he would be exposed.  That was the right way to do it and was the way it was done for most of the history of this country.  The Post’s column did the trick.  Does anyone know whether Bill and Frances are still married.  I don’t and I don’t care.  That’s their business.

            Second, Villafuerte had denied the other allegations which have been investigated and no charges have been raised.  She should have fought.

            • MADCO says:

              to get in front of this.  They didn’t .

              I don’t think it’s because she/they couldn’t – but they didn’t.

              Personally, I don’t care who has an affair with whom, as long as it’s not me.

              • BlueCat says:

                It’s not just that there was a wild accusation.  It’s that the response keeps leading away from any reasonable explanation and toward more distracting speculation.  I’m a Dem and I want to believe there was no wrongdoing here.  If they keep making it harder for me to buy it, and they do, they certainly aren’t convincing people in general.  Don’t see the value of going to the wall for this particular pick.  For whatever reason, it’s just too screwed up at this point.  

            • allyncooper says:

              Bill and Frances got divorced. But that’s their business, not mine.

              FDR was caught in an affair with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s secretary in 1919, and they never had martial relations again. But they had an excellent non sexual marriage, each one admiring and respecting one another and their work. When FDR died at Warm Springs in 1945 he was not with Eleanor, he was with Lucy Mercer.

              I think Bill and Hillary Clinton have much the same relationship as FDR and Eleanor, and if it works for them, more power to them.

              Eisenhower and his wife Mamie were married in name only. She was actually an alcoholic and spent time at Fitzsimmons drying out (she was from Denver.) And Kennedy’s adultery was well known.

              But back in the day, the press didn’t report on the private misgivings of these very public people. I guess there were some standards of decency involved.

              Now we get some blog “journalist” writing a story about some affair Governor Ritter may or may not have had, without any real proof.  

            • DavidThi808 says:

              First off, this is the first I heard of an alleged affair and I think on that question we should all butt-out.

              My concern was with her role, if any, in the whole Voorhis issue. On that she was claiming that she did nothing and then did not speak to the question of why was she calling the DAs office.

              No you don’t withdraw on an accusation. But when a credible accusation is left unanswered, then you have a problem.

              • RedGreen says:

                David, have you been following this at all? She most certainly did “speak to the question,” that’s what the whole Bulgarian threat against Ritter thing has been about, or whatever it is. Boyles had contemporaneous documentation that police and prosecutors were investigating a threat after SV’s calls, but, in true Peter Boyles fashion, he ignored it because he just knew something was wrong. Don’t you go acting all Peter Boyles on us.

                • DavidThi808 says:

                  What I did read was in the Denver Post and what I read was that there was a supposed threat but they never were able to show anything to back that allegation up.

                  If there was clear evidence of a threat and proof that that was what her calls were about – then they need to get that out. Even now after withdrawing, they should still get the full story out to everyone.

                  • BlueCat says:

                    Nobody has produced any police records of reports of the alleged threats.  That’s a problem.  Also a problem to insist that you can’t remember what you did talk about but can firmly attest to what you didn’t talk about in so many conversations. These and other problems have been pounced on but not created out of nothing.  If it were a Republican appointee,  we Dems would be pouncing too, and how.

                • Roger D says:

                  That however does not answer the question as to whether it was the threat that was the reason for the calls to Chuck Lepley or to ask for a check of the NCIC.  And if it was the threat that was the reason for the calls why there is no documentation of Lepley’s calls to either Whitman or anyone else in the DPD with regard to the threat.

                  Saying that there was a threat (assumed to be true) and saying that that was the reason for the calls to the DA’s office rather than to run and NCIC check on the bad guy are two different things.

                  It is the evasion that is the problem and no evidence to support the proposition that Villafuerte’s calls had nothing to do with the NCIC but rather the threat.

                  I am not going on record as saying that indeed the calls to Lepley were about the NCIC, but it is difficult to accept the remarkable coincidences that have occurred consistent with the calls to Lepley and the Da’s office without having a certain amount of skepticism.

                  It is the inconsistencies and seeming less than candid disclosure that has reasonable people questioning what is going on here.

                  And no, I frankly don’t know or care whether there was any kind of sexual affair going on.  I am concerned about what is a appears to be a lack of candor and an ineptitude in handling this issue (the Vorhis, I mean, not the other).

                  • DavidThi808 says:

                    I just went and read a number of articles I found because of RedGreen’s comment above (this is a good one… ) and the thing that struck me was that a lot of Villafuerte’s comments seemed to be very carefully constructed that make you think she is not being fully candid.

                    On the flip side, it may just be that as an attorney she always testifies this way. But it’s her job, as an applicant for U.S. Attorney, to answer this in a way that many people are left wondering.

                    • RedGreen says:

                      And you’re right, her answers (“no conversation” when she might have left voice mails on the NCIC topic) smack of an overabundance of legalistic caution.

                      I have no idea whether Villafuerte asked the DA’s office to run a check, and then later misled the FBI about this. There were a lot of reasons for Ritter’s campaign to put in calls to the DA’s office (including the threat, which does have documentation Boyles didn’t acknowledge), and staff at the DA’s office could well have checked on the Beauprez ad on their own, but who knows? I was merely pointing out that, contrary to your statement, Villafuerte did provide a reason for the calls.  

                    • DavidThi808 says:

                      After reading more it’s definitely less clear than I thought.

      • Colorado Pols says:

        Is that this could all have been avoided. If Villafuerte was the nominee, anyone with half a political brain could see this stream of attacks coming from a mile away. Villafuerte and Ritter just spent months getting hammered in the press for absolutely no reason.

        • Roger D says:

          The reason Ritter is in such big trouble electorally is thathe doesn’t have a clue (and/or those around him) how to get anything right.  The way this nomination has been handled is typical of the way everything has been handled politically by Ritter and his team – bungled.

          He may win reelection but I am guessing his campaign slogan will be:

          I’m not the other guy.

  3. MADCO says:

    Office holders who get nominated are so… so …. I don’t know, appointed.

  4. Arvadonian says:

    We need a candidate and this would be her opportunity to clear her name.

  5. Automaticftp says:

    And not “Josh?”

    I think John Walsh would be terrific.  

  6. SaveCoH2O says:

    If Thiebaut is nominated and confiremd that will open a whole new can of worms for Ritter. He, as sitting Gov. will appoint his replacement. This would force him right back into the mud poll called–Pueblo politics.

    I think John Walsh would be a supper US Attorney.

  7. Roger D says:

    “….Ritter would have to appoint his replacement, which adds an unnecessary layer to a process that has already been delayed for too long. ”

    Ritter would indeed have to name a district attorney replacement in Pueblo, but that would not impact or lengthen the US Attorney nomination/confirmation.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      It’s just another layer to a story that Ritter needs to be shut. If Thiebaut gets the nomination, then there will be more stories about appointing his replacement that will also mention Villafuerte as background. They should go with Walsh and put this whole nomination process behind them for good.

  8. Canines says:

    something, it turns out.

  9. paulrosenthal says:

    Either Thiebaut or Walsh would be good, but Thiebaut probably has the upper hand in terms of experience, connections, etc.

    But, I’m sure the Gov will be under a lot of pressure to appoint a Latino.

  10. Laughing Boy says:

    She was simply caught lying and didn’t want to face reconciling that under oath.

    Good move withdrawing.

  11. dwyer says:

    Let me reiterate.  What fueled the controversy was Boyles ability to command his audience to call Sessions and alert him to the possible controversy. Sessions’ office was bombarded.  Boyles is not finished.  His intent is to defeat Ritter/Bennet  in 2010. I am betting on Boyles.

    Remember this is the show which defeated the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who had been in the state for years and been brought here as children. It is also the show which put up the “edited” video with Obama saying it was a Muslin.  This win adds to Boyles credibility on all these other issues.

    To recount as this election year begins.


    Boyles is on the public airwaves 20 hours a week

    Rosen is on the public airwaves 15 hours a week

    Caplis/Silverman are on the public airwaves 15 hours a week. (Silverman is either supposed to be an independent or a democrat, but he is so cowed by Caplis that that viewpoint is rarely heard, IMHO)

    Caldera is on the public airwaves 15 hours a week.

    There is an additional 15 hours a week on KOA from 7pm to 10pm in which a variety of republican hosts rotate…Tancrado and “you’ve done a hell of a job, Brownie” Roberts are among them.

    That is 80 hours a week(not counting the weekends) of radio talk devoted to anti-Democratic administration rhetoric.  The Republican party does not pay one cent for all that time.

    There is not right to be heard on the radio if you call in.

    There is no law against lying on the public airwaves. There is no law guaranteeing anyone the right to correct any lies or misinformation put out over the public airwaves.

    Eighty hours my friends.  Eighty hours of radio broadcast all over this state.   I did not include the national shows (Beck, Limbaugh)

    Now, Sirota is on for 15 hours a week and Maurice whomever is on for 15 hours a week.  The only problem is that the reach of that station is miniscule compared to KOA and KHOW.  AND, neither of them are very knowledgeable about local politics.  Sirota does have an occasional good interview with a locally elected offical.  But, mainly he lets us know how dumb Coloradans are and  how lucky we are that he came from the East to “enlighten us.”  Sorry, David,  a million years ago i came from Philly, do.  My relatives sound just like you.  I don’t listen to Maurice, because I keep getting the impression he is broadcasting from LA.  

    Now I know, David, you will tell me that young kids, such as your daughters don’t listen to the radio.  You are absolutely right.  They don’t call Congress either.  Didn’t one of your daughters not even know when she was supposed to vote and missed the recent election?

    Talk radio is not about news. Talk radio is about influencing the electorate  any way possible.

    • MADCO says:

      So where is the media strategy on the left in Colorado ?

      I see weakness. And resignation.

      Weakness, like why bother trying to get media coverage. ANd Resignation as in we don’t need no stinkin’ media. We’ll just knock on more doors.

      David  vs. Boyles, Rosen et al is the classic Progressive  v Conservative.  David is not beholden to the party and calls ’em like he sees him, no matter who is embarrassed.  The local right talkers do march in order- in part because the order is so clear, in part because they believe that the time for embarrassing and pushing on elected officails is after your guy has won.

      However- I’m not sure it will be enough for Boyles/Caplis/Rosen etc. to line up against Ritter and other D’s next year.  It wasn’t last year.  

      But you are absolutely correct that the local D’s underestimate R talk radio to their peril.

      • dwyer says:

        Ritter won in 2006, it was a bad year for Republicans because the war in Iraq was at its darkest.  Beauprez came across as an bumbling idiot and I think that the repubs had internal dissention. The economy collapsed in 2008 and until that happened McCain, etc., were either in the lead or tied.  The standard issue repubs had supported Romney in 2008 and so there was a divided party.

        Absent a major disaster I think Colorado goes red, again.

        I don’t like it.  Let me make that clear.  

    • DavidThi808 says:

      You make some very good points. However, most of the talk radio is preaching to the choir. Their listeners are voting Republican no matter what they hear.

      I do think the web is where we progressives have a strong advantage – and the web has much more impact than talk radio – especially on undecideds. And part of that advantage comes from the brutally honest nature of the web – that honesty gives it credibility.

      What is key is if our candidates have campaigns that understand how to use the web and make good use of it. Where they do I think we’ll win. Where they don’t, I think it will be iffy.

      • RedGreen says:

        In large part, that’s probably true, but there’s a huge difference between a energized group of voters and a bunch of angry cranks yelling at the radio, many of whom would otherwise sit on their hands because you can’t trust either party.

        And it’s certainly not true “listeners” are calling Jeff Sessions all at once no matter what they hear. Dwyers point is that coordinated, ubiquitous right-wing talk radio motivates and organizes otherwise scattered malcontents.

      • dwyer says:

        You are looking at what may well happen in the future. But, for now, talk radio is powerful,IMHO.  I asked you once why Obama’s numbers were slipping.  You rightly said the economy was so bad…at least I think we had that exchange.

        But look at the score for the talk radio crowd since 2009, in Colorado”

        1) Tea party strength

        2) Defeat of the instate tuition for illegal kids

        3) Ritter’s numbers are atrocious

        4) Withdrawal of the Villafuerte nomination

        I will ask you for documentation  for one  of your remarks:

        the web has much more impact than talk radio – especially on undecideds.

        Point to any triumph of the “progressive movement” since the inaugural.  

  12. dwyer says:

    This was  at about 6 PM, tonight, MSNBC. A failure to get meaningful health reform is not a “progressive victory.”  It is a progressive defeat.  Last spring, the vast majority of Americans were in favor of health care reform.  Now a majority are not.

    The Republicans vowed to defeat healthcare reform.  Remember the cry” We will make healthcare reform Obama’s Waterloo.”  If you did not hear it, then, of course, you were not listening to talk radio.  Because 80 hours a week, locally host were attacking any and all health care proposals and calling out the tea party folks……since last February.

    i wish you were right, but only in Boulder does your vision exist, IMHO.

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