Walker Stapleton’s Hit-and-Run: As Bad as You Thought?

The campaign of Colorado Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton released long-awaited documents yesterday related to his DUI arrest in 1999, an arrest that became a major point of contention in the closing days of his heated (and successful) campaign against incumbent Cary Kennedy. Reporter Tim Hoover of the Denver newspaper wrote today’s story based on the original police reports on the accident provided by Stapleton. In San Francisco, where the incident occurred, police reports are not considered public records; Stapleton, or another party to the incident, were the only ones who could legally request them.

And folks, there appears to be a very good reason why Stapleton “couldn’t” produce this report before the election–a serious lack of exonerating information. The police report describes a “loud and belligerent” Stapleton attempting to leave the scene of the accident, even after police followed him with their lights on. According to this report, the biggest reason Stapleton was unsuccessful in fleeing the scene was the damage his Jeep had suffered in the accident. The report says Stapleton then got out of his disabled vehicle strongly smelling of alcohol, and was “unsteady on his feet” in addition to loud and belligerent.

In short, it sounds about as bad as those “liberal smear merchants” always said it was.

The court records we originally released in this case last month do make reference to “injured pedestrians,” but the Colorado Independent’s reporting clarified that these were passengers in the taxi involved in the accident. Ginger Vasquez’s account of the collision, which generally comports with the facts in all of these records, was published by the Independent in detail before the election.

Stapleton claims in today’s story that there are yet more documents in the case he is trying to get his hands on, including documents that explain–presumably in a manner favorable to Stapleton–why the charge of leaving the scene of the accident was dropped. We’ll have to take his now-questionable word on that, though it’s been suggested to us that none of the facts as reported need to change for Stapleton to have simply accepted a plea bargain from an overburdened court system. Meaning that those exculpatory details waiting just over the horizon, like Stapleton told you these police reports contained before he won the election, may well not exist at all.

Unfortunately for the voters, it’s too late now for anything other than “buyer’s remorse.”

55 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. 20th Maine says:

    2006 & 2008.

    Haven’t seen Hoover’s piece.  I’m surprised Stapleton would release them at all, at this point, if they cast a negative light on him.  At least he could have waited for the remaining documents.

  2. Laughing Boy says:

    Again, this was processed by the legal system, and he served the punishment the courts in CA decided to mete out.

    A total bullshit smearjob that probably cost Kennedy the election.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        In the eyes of most voters and people, a mistake made 11 years ago and corrected shouldn’t disqualify one from office.  In fact, the use of this to try to smear him probably got him some votes.

        This isn’t a scandal, it was a dumb move made more than a decade ago, and he’s apparently corrected the behavior and done whatever the law asked him to do.  An absolute non-issue.

        • Dan Willis says:

          I think want the Treasurer, of all elected officials, to be at least honest. Had he said something like, “yep I made a mistake, I paid the price for it, and I learned from the rror of my ways” it would have been dropped.

        • BlueCat says:

          You don’t think his being a member of the Bush clan had anything to do with serious charges mysteriously disappearing the way so much of GW’s youthful high jinks, including while “serving” in the National Guard, have disappeared with inexplicable gaps in paper trails? Walker boy clearly didn’t want people looking too closely at the whole privileged Bush connection angle going into the election.

          Bottom line, I don’t care that much about his past. It’s just a shame such a mediocrity has displaced the excellent, smart, highly competent, successful Cary Kennedy. There is no evidence Walker boy is any of those things. If the whole truth about the incident could have prevented it that would have been fine with me.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            So you are wishing that it would have cost him the election, but it didn’t.  I get that.

            There’s no evidence whatsoever that W had anything to do with this whatsoever.  And it’s San Francisco.  How much leverage do you really think he would have had there to do anything at all?

            • BlueCat says:

              Fact is he’s the family “special child” in spite of making it to president and this was in ’99, when Jeb was still considered the only Bush boy worth anything. Ha!  W’s never been anything but an empty suit going from doing a lousy, lazy job in one career gift opportunity from daddy after another with constant bailouts courtesy of daddy’s connections and  watched over by minders right on up to the pinnacle of his various failed careers; the most incompetent president in US, or possibly world, history. Totally agree that W had nothing to do with it. Jeesh!

              In any case, the real shame here is that another mediocrity from the Bush clan has taken the job of someone so superior by every objective measure.   It is also clear that this particular mediocrity has the same attitude toward his own entitlement as opposed to that of the little people that is the hallmark of the Bush clan. This particular incident is hardly the most important reason why you ought to be ashamed of voting for the guy, LB.

            • DaftPunk says:

              No one wrote that Bush pulled any strings.

              Stapleton is from a wealthy and well-connected family.  Do you not think that might have something to do with charges being reduced?

            • Aristotle says:

              Lots. Lots and lots and lots. Politically connected families have influence EVERYWHERE.

              You probably weren’t being serious when you asked that question, though, did you? San Francisco is where Bechtel is headquartered. It’s image as a socialist utopia is about a million miles off target, as I’m sure you know.

          • c rork says:

            Getting a DUI/drug possession charge is a condition of membership in the Bush clan.

            • BlueCat says:

              GW failing time and again in his various businesses.  Neil and Silverado.  They haven’t even wanted to mention the other brother, Marvin, for the past decade. Where the heck did Jeb come from out of this bunch?  I don’t agree with his views but he actually appears not to be an incompetent idiot.  

    • DaftPunk says:

      It’s about his character (or lack thereof.)

      Protestations otherwise reflect poorly on your skills at reasoning versus partisan posturing.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Have you ever had a cocktail and been behind the wheel?  Ever?  Even in your twenties?

        If not, than you’re a tiny minority.  Almost all of us have done stupid things with cars and alcohol, and realized it and corrected it.

        This particular incident IMO has nothing to do with character.

        • Rainidog says:

          It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.  It’s not that someone screwed up, it’s the hypocrisy.  It’s the not taking full responsibility.  It’s the still making excuses and shifting blame, years after the fact.

          And no, I was never this fucked up, even in my younger years.

          The police report describes a “loud and belligerent” Stapleton attempting to leave the scene of the accident, even after police followed him with their lights on. According to this report, the biggest reason Stapleton was unsuccessful in fleeing the scene was the damage his Jeep had suffered in the accident. The report says Stapleton then got out of his disabled vehicle strongly smelling of alcohol, and was “unsteady on his feet” in addition to loud and belligerent.

        • DaftPunk says:

          I’ve never T-boned another vehicle at a stop sign, and tried to escape the police with lights flashing.

          What he did has nothing to do with the poor choices the average driver makes.

          Again, pretending this is the sort of bad choice everyone makes when they’re young and dumb when it isn’t makes you look like a hack.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            How long is long enough, then?

            Or does a dui like this permanently disqualify one from public office?

            • DaftPunk says:

              It’s a piece of information each one will use to assess a candidate’s qualifications.

              You seem to assert it’s an irrelevant and unfair partisan attack which has no place in the public debate.  I must have missed the part where you fleshed out why that’s the case.  

              As a corollary to your question, what crimes of moral turpitude committed in one’s youth aren’t excusable?  i.e. For what crimes is “I was young and stupid” not a get out of jail (or into the statehouse) free card?

            • gaf says:

              How long is long enough, then?

              Well, for a simple DUI, with contrition for the actions, perhaps 11 years is long enough. But this is about Stapleton’s  denial and misrepresentation of the facts. And the question of how long before we can forgive and forget the lying is currently moot because he is still doing those things. It is not just about past actions but current character.

    • Voyageur says:

      she was just caught in a republican wave: c.f. Bernie Buescher, Stan Garnett.  And it wasn’t a smear, it was truth.  I don’t find a ten year old dui all that relevant, frankly, but then I felt Stapleton was a wholly unqualified lightweight with nothing but family name and family money,.  This year, with an R behind his name, that was enough.  

  3. saofner says:

    Cary never did have enough funds to strongly defend her office.  Stapleton’s funding was more than sufficient, and he rode a Republican wave. Had another 20,000 Denver Democrats voted, this posting would not have been up and we would be happy with our open and honest Treasurer.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    • RedGreen says:

      Kennedy lost by more than 40,000 votes, so that wouldn’t have done it.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      But there’s only so much money a candidate for State Treasurer can really raise. Kennedy lost because she was an incumbent Democrat running for an office that voters don’t really understand or care much about. In a year in which voters didn’t like incumbents or Democrats, that was reason enough for voters to choose Stapleton instead.

      • BlueCat says:

        who wanted to register dissatisfaction with the status quo but who preferred the top of the ticket Dems, Hick and Bennet, decided to split their vote and did so by voting R for some down ticket offices, especially statewide.  In fact I’ve heard people who consider themselves to be in the middle and not very political say that they think it’s always a good idea to vote for a mix.

        It’s not as if your average voter has much awareness of anything beyond Governor, Senator and sometimes their own congressman. It would be interesting to see a poll showing  what percentage of those who voted in the 2010 election can now name their new Treasurer or SOS. We probably don’t need a poll to have a pretty good idea of what pathetic percentage can name their state senate and house reps.  

        • Nugget says:

          With a margin of 40k votes, a more focused GOTV effort at the county level could have made the difference. Denver largely closed the gap from the primary but I suspect other county party orgs weren’t up to the job of promoting down ballot candidates. It’s also a shame voters decided to split their ticket with several clearly inferior GOP candidates.  

          • BlueCat says:

            corner of Arapahoe County but you’d be surprised how many people think vote splitting makes some kind of point. And how little they make it their business to know anything other than the D or R  by the names.

  4. Ray Springfield says:

    I bet that they aren’t talking, though.

    • RedGreen says:

      the true victim here?

      • Ray Springfield says:

        You are so right. Being questioned about drunken driving, alluding arrest, and leaving the scene of an accident are really bad for politicians issues,

        The victims were probably paid by insurance compnaies. He wasn’t charged with driving without insurance.

        Jambalaya  thinks it doesn’t matter because it happened over 10 years ago.

        There are plenty of people in Canyon City that would agree with her premise.

  5. Aggie says:

    Which has done more damage:

    (a) Stapleton’s irresponsible and inexcusable drunk driving

    or

    (b) Amendment 23.

    My answer: While (a) is sad/lame/dangerous, (b) has been a key factor in the mix of budgetary disasters that have nearly destroyed Colorado.

    I do not understand how people who understand the Colorado budget can support someone who campaigned primarily on her passage of Amendment 23.  

    • Voyageur says:

      Don’t forget the fiscal equivalent of bubonic plague: TABOR.  And Stapleton is a big TABOR fan who even opposed Ref C.  And while we’re at it, don’t forget the Gallagher amendment, a catastrophe that even the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry backed!

      • Aggie says:

        Look, I agree 1000% with you about Gallagher and TABOR being horrid pieces of “legislation.”  

        But there is a key difference here: Kennedy was one of the key players in passing Amendment 23, and she ran on that platform in this election. I wanted to puke every time I saw the commercials where she boasted about passing it!

        While Stapleton has said he supports TABOR, Doug Bruce, not Stapleton, is ultimately resonsible for passing it. Stapleton deserves scorn for his blind support, but in the end, passing a bill makes someone more culpable than supporting one.

        TABOR, Gallagher, AND Amendment 23 all combine to create a tough budgeting scenario.  

        The main point is this: Anyone who thinks that a Constitutional Amendment passed as a citizen’s initiative is a good way to create law has a fundemental mis-understanding of good governance.  

        • Voyageur says:

          And, yes, that was a mistake on Kennedy’s part.  I still supported her because even the great ones make mistakes once in a while.  Robert E. Lee attacked frontally at Gettysburg, up a steep hill against massed artillery and infantry protected by a stone wall, after two days of previous attacks that had eliminated any hope of surprise.  

          So, even the great ones screw up from time to time.  Indeed,the only perfect persons I know is myself — and even I suffer from excessive modesty.

           

  6. Sir Robin says:

    unethical behavior is part of every political affiliation, some parties just deal with it more honestly.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi

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