Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports on the continuing controversy over GOP Rep-elect Matt Soper in HD-54, as a complaint alleging Soper lied about his residency in the district combined with allegations of intimidation against the tenant of a rented home owned by Soper’s mother threatens to, if not depose then at least seriously humiliate the latest in a long line of GOP Western Slope wunderkinds:
The complaint filed with the Secretary of State is expected to be finalized on Tuesday. It alleges Republican Rep.-elect Matt Soper didn’t live in House District 54 for the required amount of time, when he ran for, and won the House seat. Yet, even if the charges are found to be true, his removal wouldn’t be automatic. Instead, it would require a full vote of the state House of Representatives.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, a candidate must have lived in a legislative district for at least one year before the November election to qualify to represent that district.
Palisade resident Dave Edwards filed the complaint and alleges that Soper listed a three-bedroom house in Delta that his mother owns and rented out to a family as his address, but that he lived at another residence, and for part of that time outside of the House district. Soper also used the Delta address on his voter registration form.
“Something this major should not go without someone raising a concern,” Edwards said.
Ordinarily, these kinds of residency questions would not be considered a serious threat to an elected official taking office, as long as there is some kind of plausible claim to residency the candidate can stake. But in Soper’s case, as the Grand Junction Sentinel previously reported, it’s alleged that the tenants of a home owned by Soper’s mother in the district–who insist that Rep.-elect Soper has never lived at the residence during the time they have rented it–were threatened with eviction if they continued to talk to inquiring reporters.
Whether this case rises to the level of action by the overwhelming Democratic House majority is going to depend heavily on the specific circumstances here, in particular the allegations of a tenant in a family-owned property being intimidated in order to maintain a pretense of residency for Soper that did not factually exist. That’s where this could transition from an overlookable mistake to conduct unbecoming of a lawmaker.
As you’ve heard a thousand times in politics, the cover-up is worse than the crime.