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January 28, 2012 04:21 AM UTC

Bradford "Suspended" As Committee Chair After Traffic Stop

  • by: Colorado Pols

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby:

The Colorado Constitution says legislators cannot be arrested except for reasons of treason or felony while going to or returning from the Legislature or a committee hearing.

But, according to the Legislature’s archived video and audio logs for that day, the House finished its floor work by 10:30 a.m. that morning, and Bradford’s committee met immediately afterward. It completed its work by noon, and Bradford served on no other committees that day…


UPDATE #4: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:

Bradford did not pass a roadside sobriety test, according to [Denver Police Lt. Matt] Murray, but was not arrested because of an antiquated state law that allows lawmakers a level of immunity from police arrest during the legislative session.

According to Murray, a regular citizen would have been taken in for a blood or breath test, resulting in a possible DUI arrest…

Bradford released a statement denying that account.

“I did not invoke legislative immunity,” she said.

But police say Bradford specifically mentioned she was coming from a legislative function and had to go to another one in the morning… [Pols emphasis]


UPDATE #3: The law Rep. Laura Bradford reportedly cited to prevent arrest for DUI on Wednesday night is in fact Colorado Constitution Article V, Section 16:

Section 16. Privileges of members.

The members of the general assembly shall, in all cases except treason or felony, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, or any committees thereof, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, or any committees thereof, they shall not be questioned in any other place.


UPDATE #2: 7NEWS reporting via Twitter that Rep. Bradford invoked state law preventing her arrest as a state representative with police at the scene. Developing…


UPDATE: KKCO-TV Grand Junction reports–were you aware of this law?

NEW INFORMATION: Denver Police say Rep. Bradford admitted to drinking before being pulled over, but an old Colorado law prohibits them from arresting a State Representative if they’re driving to or from the State Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

…According to Denver Police, Rep. Bradford was seen driving “erratically” around 10:00 Wednesday night near Colfax Avenue and Downing Street.

(Comment H/T)


Not much information yet, this Friday evening update from the Grand Junction Sentinel:

State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, has been suspended as chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee due to a traffic citation.

The state House of Representatives announced in a news release early Friday evening that Bradford received a traffic citation Wednesday. The release didn’t indicate what the citation was for.

Rep. Libby Szabo of Arvada will take over Laura Bradford’s chair of the Local Government Committee–with a Tweet that Eli Stokols will have more at 9PM, you now know all we know.

We’ll update as information becomes available.


47 thoughts on “Bradford “Suspended” As Committee Chair After Traffic Stop

    1. Drinking before isn’t drunk. I’m curious if Bradford agreed to step down, or if she’s pissed (twice over?). Not being a huge fan of the DUI (daddy killer, in my case), I’m also not a huge fan of punishment before investigation. Of course, if I were elected, loaded and busted, I’d be quick to step aside.

      If she was drunk, burn in hell. If not, something in me is cringing a bit. <–Probably gonna regret that. It’s bitten me in the ass with now four politicians in the last year.

    1. It’s not an obscure law, really. It’s a constitutional right.

      The members of the general assembly shall, in all cases except treason or felony, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, or any committees thereof, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, or any committees thereof, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

      Article V, Section 16

      Never seen it come up irl…

        1. To be fair, you pointed us at the KKCO story. Thanks for that.

          It is obscure, though, at least in the sense that we’ve never heard of it invoked before. We suspect it will not be so obscure going forward.

          1. What’s called the “Speech or Debate” clause.

            …shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place. [Art. I, Sec. 6, Clause 1]

      1. She was stopped at 10PM on east Colfax? Had she proceeded immediately from the Capitol to her in town residence? The way I read this, if she was at a bar getting hammered after the day was done, she was no longer “returning from.” I call bullshit until an attorney says different.

        Either way this is a total bullshit abuse of this law which I think is meant to protect against intimidation, not walking away from a goddamn DUI.

        And Bradford must resign for this abuse of power, not the DUI. Monday morning.

        1. You are right, but we don’t know yet. Although, my weak hesitation gets weaker. Is being a douche like a prerequisite for being elected?

          You’re also assuming she wasn’t in committee until late, drinking from a flask. I mean, who hasn’t been drunk at under the dome?

          Seriously, if you’ve nailed the beg off, even if she wasn’t drunk, I completely agree with you.

        2. “going to and returning from the same” probably doesn’t extend that far. From the sound of things, though, the police erred on the side of caution, it wasn’t a case of Bradford trying to intimidate them.

          1. The FOX story says Bradford failed a roadside sobriety test, but they didn’t take her in for a blood or breathalyzer test. But don’t they actually have breathalyzers in the cars? I thought that could be administered on scene.

            This is why the order in which it happened, their investigation and whenever legislative immunity came up, is important. Those details haven’t been reported.

            At the very least, she became aware that she was not being arrested due to her legislative immunity. What did she say to that?

            1. The Post story paints a slightly different picture, sounding more like she did invoke the constitutional protection, although she denies that’s what happened, according to the 31 story.

              1. But it sounds like she just said, on a Wednesday night, that she had shit to do in the morning. That was true.

                She’s also saying that she would’ve demanded to be taken in if she’d realized why she was being let off. Too drunk to notice? WTF did she think?

                Very interesting.

            2. police have hand held units called PBTs (portable breath tests) that are inaccurate enough that they do not meet the evidence standard for reliability to be admissible as evidence of intoxication.  PBTs (along with other evidence) can be used to establish probable cause so the officer can take you in to custody and then subject you to a true breathalyzer.

              Breathalyzers are sensitive and must be properly maintained and administered correctly in order to be accurate.

      2. I have seen it used a couple of times. For speeding to session. For those who do not know, the legislators are supposed to show for work on time. There is a small “fine” involved and other penalties for the late arriving.

    2. One part is criminal, the other part is civil.  DUI itself is a misdemeanor under most circumstances, but the state has a right to yank your license in a civil proceeding before an administrative law judge.

      You have no right to a driver’s license.  Driving is a privilege, not a right.

      1. because I was remembering the privilege thing. If she would’ve been busted robbing a bank on her way to the morning session, she’d be arrested regardless as felonies aren’t covered.

        That’s all.

        Side note: I’m fairly certain that there is a similar rule for US Congresspeople. Except you have to either murder or commit treason. Banks are on their own. (Obviously, not really. Badumching)

        1. Colorado has an “implied consent” law.  By holding a Colorado driver’s license, you have consented to a BAC test.  If you refuse, your license is revoked.

          At least one of the conflicting news reports says that Bradford raised legislative immunity as a reason why she couldn’t be detained for a BAC test.  Fine.  The rest of us also have a right to refuse a BAC test.  It’s called the Fifth Amendment.

          It seems to me, and I’m not an attorney, that if Bradford refused to take a BAC test for any reason–be it the Fifth Amendment, Article V Section 16, or whatever–she has still violated the implied consent provision of her driver’s license privilege.  If so, then her license can be yanked for that reason alone, regardless of her BAC.

          I hope some of the attorneys who read and post here will chime in, because I think this is an issue that needs to be discussed.

          1. You are correct that if I’m suspected of being drunk behind the wheel and refuse a test, Colorado law says my license is preemptively pulled. But I would definitely be detained, not for a felony, while the civil bit took place.

            In this case, the DPD officer seems to not have brought it up at all. You can’t refuse if you aren’t asked/told.

            The conflicting stories seem to be related to the semantics of the original report. No one is currently suggesting that she said something like, “You can’t detain me! I’m a state representative!” To me, that changes the situation a bit.

            The bigger issue for me, at this point, is why DPD made the assumption, apparently based on a standing policy. Odd that if you or I are arrested we have to (for instance) ask for an attorney, but state reps get the automatic benefit of this random right. DPD especially doesn’t seem fond of any regular citizens’ rights. Regular citizens have to demand the most basic.

            I find myself giving the computer screen a crusty look at every angle of this. The guy with weed in the car gets his ass kicked, the rep gets a cab. Sure. Why not?

  1. I doubt that that the provision that insulates legislators from being detained while doing official business would hold sway here.

    As I remember my constitutional history, it was really intended to prevent a legislator from being intercepted while en route to a vote – remember when the Colorado Constitution was written.

    We have had some celebrated occasions when a legislator was recalled because of a call of the House or Senate to cast a vote and the State Patrol was dispatched to find them and bring them back.  In one case, the legislator was recalled from vacation in Hawaii and in one recent case, the legislator was wheeled into the House chamber on a gurney because he had been in the hospital.

  2. After her encounter with Denver’s finest, Rep. Bradford went before the House Economic Development and Business Committee Thursday to move her bill HB12-1027 allowing the sale of home kitchen-produced foods.

    The bill specifically exempts from its protections any food products that are “infused with medical marijuana or otherwise adulterated.”

    Let’s hope she didn’t take the wheel after getting looped on some homemade rum balls. That would be embarrassing.

    1. A few legislators might never be concerned about engaging in drunk driving. A few might be more concerned if caught.

      I do miss the days when the Red Door was still alive and the idiocy of the “buy your own damned cup of coffee” was not around.

  3. …before the partisan frothing starts and Dems are calling for resignation from her position in the house.

    Senator Suzanne “Scott-Free” Williams killed a pregnant woman with her reckless driving and still enjoys a seat in our state’s Senate.

    So before we demand that Rep. Bradford resign, let’s take a close look at the other 99 members of the leg.

    1. Legislators have resigned over much less than this: recall Deanna Hanna of Lakewood (D) who resigned after being caught shaking down a realtors group for a political donation; and Michael Garcia (D), who resigned after an ethics complaint that alleged sexual misconduct. Those are the ones that I had in recent memory.

      And Williams, IMHO, should have resigned; the facts of the accident are not in dispute – she was driving, she crossed the center line and her car hit the Gomez car and killed Mrs. Gomez. Unfortunately, the Texas grand jury chose not to charge her.

      As to Bradford, she should step down (or her leadership should file a complaint about this), if for no other reason, abuse of her legislative authority. The DUI, or lack thereof, is now secondary.

      The law, according to what has been written about it, was intended to protect legislators from undue influence or intimidation; instead, she has used it to intimidate the law.

      1. A speaker of the House got a DUI not that many years ago. He announced it himself in open session the next morning. There was no attempt to evade it; he owned up and took his medicine.

        Bradford should have done the same.

    2. Williams should have resigned. Her failure to take any responsibility, no doubt on the sound advice of her lawyers, for a death that absolutely happened only because of completely irresponsible idiocy she allowed to take place in the car she was driving, was every bit as bad and she was every bit as responsible as Bradford would have been if her instance of drunk driving had resulted in a fatality, as Williams deplorable choices did.  

      In my book, Williams was just less lucky, certainly not less culpable, than Bradford, who escaped killing anyone with her reckless behavior by sheer chance.  I would have some respect for Williams if she had at least resigned and expressed remorse after she was cleared and out of danger of being prosecuted and possibly sent to prison.  As it is, I really don’t.

  4. comments that a law to drug test welfare recipients failed to pass after it was amended to include drug testing of legislators as well.

    I guess Colorado doesn’t need to feel so all alone anymore.


    District confusion puts Scott in limbo

    State Rep. Ray Scott may not be qualified to run in either of the two new House districts in the county.

    That’s because there’s some question about when he moved out of the newly drawn House District 54, which he currently represents, into House District 55, where he currently lives.

    Well, there’s always the guy with the hair.  

  6. They’ll put a good spin out and she’ll have a nice little carefully written statement – maybe even apologize which for Laura is worse than a poke in the eye.  

  7. In AZ last year a state leg avoided domestic violence arrest because of similar immunity. He and his wife were fighting on the highway. Mutual punching and throwing clothes out of a moving car.

  8. Rep. Bradford should be censured by the full house for her actions in driving around drunk while on “official” business.  I wonder if some of those long Mesa County GOP knives might have her facing a primary challenge?

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