Charles Ashby at the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, the controversy over a bizarre case of a legislative candidate allegedly faking their residency in the district in question, compounded by allegations of intimidation, is complicating GOP Rep.-elect Matt Soper’s ascension to House District 54:
The complaint, filed by Palisade resident David Edwards, claims Soper may not have actually lived in House District 54 for the required 12 months prior to being elected to the seat last month.
“Soper’s only other voting registration address was also in Orchard City, Colorado, in House District 61,” Edwards writes in the complaint. “It is easy to assume that, in fact, Soper’s domicile continued to be in Austin, CO, in House District 61, throughout the 12 months prior to the November 2018 election. If that is the case, Soper utterly failed to fulfill the residency requirements for the position to which he has just been elected.”
In October, The Daily Sentinel reported that while Soper had repeatedly said he was living at 10 Hartig Drive in Delta, which is inside HD54, the people who were renting that home insisted he wasn’t.
And that’s not all:
[Tenant Omar] Carreon, whose brother and parents are all disabled, said after he spoke to the Sentinel in October but before any article published, he was threatened with eviction if he spoke to the newspaper again. [Pols emphasis]
There are two separate scandals interplaying in this story: Soper’s alleged falsification of his residence, which the filed complaint focuses on, but more importantly the apparent intimidation of the renters of a house owned by the Soper family in an attempt to get them to shut up about the deception. Back in October, Mr. Carreon explained that he had agreed to collect mail for Matt Soper on Soper’s mother’s request, who owns the home. But Soper did not have a room in the home as claimed and did not reside there.
Soper’s main defense here seems to be that Mr. Carreon is a Democrat who is throwing him under the bus for partisan purposes–but given the fact that Soper didn’t even have a Democratic opponent in 2018, the motive is lacking. Not to mention that it takes guts to stand up to your landlord when they’re threatening to evict you.
We’ll be watching to see how this turns out, but it’s not the way we’d want to begin our legislative career.