Tag Archives: Mark Hurlbert

Colorado DA Mark Hurlbert’s Latest Idiotic Case: Female Coach Who Had Sex With Almost-Adult Male Student Faces Life In Prison; Saga Grows More Hilarious As Eagle Sheriff Releases Titillating Details

Let’s begin today’s update on Mark Hurlbert and Colorado’s latest legal

Coach Redfern Looking Pretty Good for a Booking Photo

telenovela by correcting several important details about Basalt High Girls Basketball coach studess, just-turned 26-year old Lauren Redfern, and her more than consensual sexual relationship with a very late teen, who I will for now refer to by the name “Slugger.”  Credit for the man-child’s apt moniker belongs to the fun writers at the popular celebrity site Busted Coverage.   And like many stories involving baffling Mark Hurlbert case filing decisions, this one’s now gone international and is cracking up readers across the pond in the U.K’s photo-studded Daily Mail.

I posted here on Thursday,  based on news reports, that Slugger, a senior at Basalt High, was a tender child of the mere age of 17 1/2 at the time he was violated.  But according to Eagle County Sheriff’s documents filed in court February 17, Slugger but was a full 17 and 11/12th years old at the time of his most recent heinous “sexual assault” at the hands and otherwise of Coach Redfern.   And another sexual encounter occurred right after Slugger hit the big 1-8, but Slugger was no longer a victim of a serious felony at that point.  I’m hoping we’ll see a hunky photo and learn Slugger’s name real soon.

Coach Goes To Court February 17, Eagle, CO. Is that hottie behind her Slugger?

And speaking of serious felonies, original reports I cited stated Coach Redfern faced up to 16 long years in a costly-to-taxpayers,  union-run Colorado prison for her multiple acts of “sexual assault” against Slugger.  The Fifth Judicial District’s lame duck, term limited DA Mark Hurlbert helpfully set the record straight that Colorado is not some pansy, slap-on-the-wrist state in serious “sexual assault” cases such as allegedly committed by Coach Redfern upon the helpless, passive, athletic male body of Slugger.  No, no, no, no as we say in Mexico.   Redfern actually faces life in prison for what she allegedly did to Slugger.

Not that Slugger’s felonious victimizer would actually receive such a Sharia Lawesque sentence, because DA Hurlbert will be considering all the “mitigating and aggravating” circumstances in negotiating a likely plea bargain, and the judge will do the same in imposing sentence.  But life as one knows it is basically destroyed by the mere stroking of some computer keys in just being charged with a felony.

Slugger Pursued The Coach!

I anticipate this revelation from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department will be a major mitigating factor.

[Slugger] met with investigators at the sheriff’s office substation in El Jebel and told them he pursued Redfern romantically. He said they met two years ago and shared an interest in athletics and they worked out at the same gym. The student said Redfern was his study hall teacher.  [Slugger] said they got together several times starting in October and engaged in fondling, which advanced to sexual intercourse “about three times” in November and December, before he was 18. Their sexual relationship continued after he turned 18, according to his interview. He told deputies he believes he fell in love with Redfern. [Emphasis added] “[Slugger] explained that Redfern had no bearing on any of his grades or status within Basalt High School,” the affidavit said. “[Slugger] said that he never felt like he had to develop the relationship or continue it in exchange for any benefit or status.” Both Redfern and the student said they decided after “the bathroom incident” on Feb. 9 to discontinue their relationship until after the student graduated. They had little choice since the criminal investigation began the next day.

Bathroom Incident

Now,  what is this “bathroom incident”?  It’s a classic.

[Coach Redfern and Slugger] drew attention to themselves while allegedly having sex in the bathroom of the teacher’s office Thursday, Feb. 9, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. The athletic director of the school allegedly interrupted the encounter when he knocked on the bathroom door, said an affidavit filed in support of an arrest warrant. Teacher Lauren Redfern came out of the bathroom and exited the office with the athletic director while the student stayed behind, the affidavit said. “School administrators confronted the student who told them that he had sex with the teacher in the bathroom,” the affidavit continued. The document, which was filed in Eagle County District Court, didn’t make it clear if [Slugger] was questioned by school administrators on Thursday or Friday. Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said she believed the incident occurred late in the day on Feb. 9 and that district administrators began investigating the morning of Feb. 10.

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the "Bathroom Incident" occurred in a bathroom similar to this.

But it gets even better (or worse) when the “bathroom incident” and its aftermath is examined from my inevitable defense lawyer perspective.   That’s because the “bathroom incident” was perfectly legal because Slugger was now 18!  So if Slugger and Coach hadn’t opened their big mouths and “cooperated” with meddlesome government employees they would have been in the clear.

The bottom line is that the legislature is at fault for sloppily drafting this statute, but a DA has tremendous discretion on what charges to file against whom and where to spend taxpayer resources.  Mark Hurlbert is a lame duck in the upcoming November election, but there is no reason to believe his nominally-GOP second-in-command (another career bureaucrat like his boss), Scott Turner, would be much of an improvement.  I wouldn’t vote for Joe Biden any sooner than I would vote for Turner.

By contrast, private-sector lawyer Bruce Brown, nominally the Democrat opponent, seems to get very well that the vast majority of voters want a DA who goes full throtel after dangerous bad guys and doesn’t in cases like this one.  And  he brings voters some perspective-providing big city law background as well as years of private practice in Colorado as a respected, successful, ethical, case-winning attorney with 25 years’ experience.  Just what Colorado mountain county voters could use after nine insufferable years of Mark Hurlbert.

Colorado Female Basketball Coach Faces Felony Charges For Sex With 17-1/2 Year Old Male “Child” – Basalt High Teacher Lauren Redfern Charged by Eagle DA Mark Hurlbert

Basalt High's Lauren Redfern Coaching Her Girls Basketball Team - Aspen Times

In a bizarre story of legislative ineptitude, sure to invoke the ire of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly for all the wrong reasons, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has charged the hot, athletic, 25-year old Lauren Redfern with several acts of consensual sex with a male “child” who was also a student at Colorado’s Basalt High where Ms. Redfern taught him a P.E. class.  I kid you not, Ms. Redfern faces 16 long years in prison for this joke of a charge that at most should be a misdemeanor.

The Aspen Dailey News shares some details, as does the Aspen Times.  The Swift-owned Times explains the “nuances” of Colorado laws on young adults having sex with relatively old minors:

Colorado law has some nuances when it comes to sexual relations between people in their late teens and adults. An 18-year-old can have a consensual sexual relationship with an older adult, even a teacher, without a crime being committed, McWilliam said. That would violate policies of most schools, but it isn’t a crime because an 18-year-old is considered an adult.

A 17-year-old can have sexual relations with an adult of any age as long as it’s not a person in a position of trust — such as a teacher, according to McWilliam.

Sorry, but the hot adults a late teen is likely to meet are these “people of trust.”  Late teens generally can’t go to bars and meet untrustworthy adults there.  (I’ll be blogging later about how head District Attorneys in positions of trust are rewarded instead of punished for far worse sexual transgressions in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District as we follow the re-election bid of DA Elizabeth Oldham (RINO – Grand County).  Here’s a couple blog posts of mine from 2010 about DA Oldham and her transgressions.)

Back to the hot action at Basalt High.  How were these sexual encounters discovered?  Apparently the gossip mill was running at full-tilt in Basalt and school officials discovered the relationship while collecting their union paychecks.

Man-child “X”, the alleged victim,  is now 18, and did not seek to have charges pressed, nor did his family.  But according to nanny-state enabler Eagle County Undersheriff Mike McWilliam, this doesn’t matter one little bit.  “It’s really not in their hands,” McWilliam said of alleged victims in these heinous cases.  These are cases where we, “The People of the State of Colorado” are the aggrieved party.

Meanwhile, plenty of real dangerous criminals run free in Colorado and even down here in Los Cabos, Mexico, where real victims want real charges filed.  But they aren’t.

ExPat ExLawyer herself is one such victim here in Mexico.  Right now, I’m blogging from the left – not politically speaking -no, never.  Literally speaking.  My right arm was shattered in an unprovoked attack and I just had surgery involving six screws and one titanium plate.  The assailant meanwhile is still running around loose.  I’ll be blogging about my experience with the Mexican criminal justice system soon.

Michael Bender Named Chief Justice of Colo. Supreme Court

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael Bender was just voted in by his colleagues as Chief Justice, replacing the retiring Mary Mullarkey.  Bender, along with Mullarkey and Justices Nancy Rice and Alex Martinez, were the targets of a no retention effort by Clear the Bench Colorado.  The effort may  well have precipitated Mullarkey’s retirement.  And though the other three justices held on to their posts, the opposition garnered an unprecedented approximate 40 percent of the vote.

To his credit, Bender doesn’t have the usual cookie-cutter government prosecutor background (see Colorado public disgrace, DA Mark Hurlbert, here and here).    Unlike most recent appointees to the courts in Colorado and the rest of the country, Bender worked in private practice from 1979 until he was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1997.  He also did stints in the Jefferson County, Denver, and state public defender’s offices and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  He will officially replace Mullarkey on November 30.

Ken Buck Goes Public on U.S. Atty. Friction with Strickland

Ken Buck, the leading Republican candidate for Colorado’s U.S. Senate race,  just made files available to the public from his years at the U.S. Attorney’s office documenting his concerns about a weak case former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland wanted to file against some pawn shop owners.  Buck turned materials on the case (that included private personnel records otherwise not subject to disclosure) over to the Denver Post, as reported today by Allison Sherry.

The story starts with a pair of Russian immigrant brothers who ran a gun store and pawnshop in Aurora in the 1990s. Gregory and Leonid Golyansky were friends and contributors to the Republican Party — Buck says he knew Gregory Golyansky at the time from Republican society gatherings. …

Federal investigators went to the gun shop in several undercover sting operations from 1996 through 1998, posing as “straw purchasers.” That means two people would come in together, but only the person paying for the gun would have to pass a background check.

Authorities figured this was how career criminals commonly gained access to weapons.

Agents first presented the investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office in 1998, when Buck was chief of general crimes. At the time, Buck and a prosecutor below him declined to file charges because of weaknesses in the ATF probe, Buck said.

Henry Solano, who was then the U.S. attorney appointed by President Bill Clinton, said the ATF never appealed the decision to him. Solano, a Democrat, served in that post until December 1998.

In his view, declining the case “was an appropriate decision,” Solano said in a recent interview.

But when Tom Strickland was sworn in as U.S. attorney the day after a pair of Columbine High School students killed 12 kids and a teacher before killing themselves in April 1999, one of his first priorities was to mount an offensive against gun violence.

So Buck thought the case was lousy, and so did his Dem boss,  Solano.  Then Strickland comes in with Columbine on his mind, and obviously sees political opportunism beckoning.  This is the same Tom Strickland that now serves as assistant Interior Secretary under Ken Salazar.  This would be the  same Tom Strickland that had to be air-lifted out of a rafting trip on the Grand Canyon on April 20 so he could attend to his duties in the gulf oil spill.

This case is also what has had some Jane Norton supporters all abuzz in the comments sections of the conservative blogosphere, including the People’s Press Collective.  So what is Buck’s non-crime here?  He told an attorney for the defense his opinion that the case was weak.  Strickland thought this violated the attorney client privilege under some tortured interpretation.  I say tortured, because the “client” wasn’t Tom Strickland.  The client is the United States of America, and the duty of a prosecutor is not to prosecute a case as hard as possible just because your boss wants you to do that.  A prosecutor has a duty to seek justice on behalf of the public.

Is this the big smoking gun in Ken Buck’s tenure as head of Criminal Prosecutions at the U.S. Attorney’s office that we’ve heard cryptic allusions to?  Ironically, even Bill Ritter’s big bud, Stephanie Villafuerte, thought this case was a dog.  She wrote a memo about the case that the defense attorneys sought to obtain.  Strickland charged the case as a 37-count felony indictment, but it was plead down to the lowest possible misdemeanor, and one day of probation, for one defendant.  Charges against two other defendants were dropped.

By this time Strickland was busy in his failed U.S. Senate run in 2002.  Suthers was aboard as U.S. Attorney, and based on Strickland’s filing of an internal ethics complaint against Buck, issued a letter of reprimand in late 2001.  This letter would have remained a private, personnel file matter but for the disclosure by Buck (though details surrounding it seem to have been leaked by the Norton campaign, possibly via her endorser, Suthers).  And this internal reprimand was in no way a Bar-discipline of any kind against Buck. Ken Buck has a spotless record with the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

Buck now admits his disclosures were a mistake, though I think that’s debatable.  We need more prosecutors who take their responsibilities seriously and speak out when the boss is pursuing cases for his own political motives and not the pursuit of justice.  As the recent felony mountain biking prosecutions by fellow Penryite and Suthers endorsement recipient, Mark Hurlbert, illustrates, overcharging by prosecutors is a pernicious form of government overreach.  Buck himself recently spoke to me about his concerns about the “overcriminalization” of society.

My only beef with Buck would be that he received about $700 in reported contributions for his Senate run from the Golyanskys.  While this is technically legal, I think it creates an appearance of impropriety,  and I have argued the same about the $2,000 in contributions Mark Hurlbert received from Ali Hasan and family (whom Hurlbert investigated, but declined to prosecute, in 2008).  Unlike Buck, Hurlbert failed to reveal details of his investigation (thereby preventing the public from making its own decision of the merits of Hurlbert’s conduct).  Still, returning  the $700 contributions would be the high road for Buck to take.

Buck’s stance in the Golyansky prosecution was a brave one, and given two well-known Democrat prosecutors agreed with him, and the one who didn’t was Tom Strickland, speaks volumes.  The Penry-led Norton campaign, as Don Johnson recently pointed out, seems truly desperate.  If this is the big dirt they have on Buck, and given the latest polling numbers, maybe Norton  should just bow out now.

Updated: Dems on the attack in predictable fashion.  Good coverage by The Independent’s John Tomasic.  Read the whole DP piece by Sherry, including the 53 comments after the article.  A lot of people seem to get it about how political prosecutor’s offices work.

DA Mark Hurlbert’s Failure To Make Colo. Republican State Senate Ballot Another Blow For Party Establishment

DA Mark Hurlbert failed to make the August 10, Colorado Republican primary ballot for state Senate District 16  after

DA Mark Hurlbert - Photo: Eric Lesser/ Getty Images file

producing  only 394 valid petition signatures, the Secretary of State’s office announced.  Hurlbert submitted 1,118 signatures, but the Secretary’s office invalidated 724 – giving Hurlbert the distinction of  the largest  invalidation rate in Colorado memory.  Hurlbert, labeled a “moderate” by mainstream media and his recruiters, was crushed  by Tim Leonard 71-29 percent at the State Assembly.   Leonard is a conservative/libertarian businessman from Evergreen, who garnered huge tea party support.   Despite the magnitude of the assembly loss, Hurlbert decided to try the petition route – the only Republican who  participated in the State Assembly to gamble on such a long-shot.

Leonard will now face liberal Democrat, Jeanne Nicholson, a Gilpin county commissioner, in the general election and will not have to waste money and effort in a primary contest.   Political analysts, such as Ben Degrow,  consider  Senate District 16 a must-win for Republicans to regain control of the state Senate from the Democrats, who hold a 21-14 majority.

Leonard’s victory marks  yet another success of a private sector, tea party candidate over the Republican party leadership’s pick.  Hurlbert, a career prosecutor like Bill Ritter,  was recruited in January by Senate Minority  leader,  Josh Penry,  and state Senator Al White, even though  Leonard had already entered the race and was campaigning effectively.

Party leaders cynically used Hurlbert’s prowess as a skier and mountaineer in an attempt to market him as a moderate,  “green Republican.”  Hurlbert and his handlers must have thought substantive discussion of issues was some kind of political third rail, making him the only candidate in Colorado I’m aware of to refuse to put an issues section on his website.

In thinking Hurlbert would be more electable than Leonard, he and his recruiters failed to clue-in that a candidate  typically must run an effective campaign to get elected.  Penry and the others did a poor job of vetting their candidate, and thought the voters would fall for generalities and spin about phony electoral prowess.

In his Assembly speech, Hurlbert clearly mislead his audience, including the media, by touting his victory in the 2008 DA’s race – an election in which Hurlbert failed to mention he’d run unopposed.  Was Penry complicit in this misleading spin, or did he just fail to exercise due diligence?

Unaccustomed to anything but nominal opposition, Hurlbert ran a “lazy and complacent” campaign, according to one Republican party official knowledgable about the race.  Hurlbert raised barely $15,000 in the entire campaign, compared to Leonard’s $70,000.  And so much for Penry’s hopes of Hurlbert’s popularity generating big support from Summit County.  Only 12 Summit residents contributed to his campaign.  Perhaps Penry and other party leaders from different  parts of Colorado mistook a lack of critical coverage of Hurlbert in the local media for  popularity.

Hurlbert has more excuses for his campaign’s failures than a criminal defendant coming before the same judge after violating probation for the fourteenth time. After  I broke the story of his stealth petition effort (apparently designed to draw minimal attention upon likely failure), Lynn Bartels picked up the story, and Hurlbert and Al White told her a flyer distributed at the assembly by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners that supposedly distorted Hurlbert’s gun record prompted him to petition.  I’ve followed Hurlbert as much as anyone in the media,  and I am unaware of any record he has on gun rights.  He pointedly avoided telling Lynn Bartels what it might be, too.

The following Saturday, Hurlbert was caught on this video taken at the June 5,  Eagle County Lincoln Dinner, with an entirely different version of events – one that makes no mention of guns at all.  It’s only a minute and a half long, but it’s loaded with at least five misleading statements, and enough nervous body language to occupy both the Tim Roth character on Lie to Me and Bill O’Reilly’s body language expert.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDkjNAF4kpY

Here’s a quick fact check of  Hurlbert’s misrepresentations:

1. Hurlbert lost by two votes, not one; 2. He had at least four days to petition, not three  (seven had he been prepared for defeat); 3. Ballot problems caused it (all ballot procedures were approved by both candidates, before the vote and after – and he’s the lawyer in the crowd); 4. Great volunteer effort – no, he used mostly paid signature collectors and spent at least $3,000 of his contributors’ funds on this long-shot;  5. He didn’t submit “1,200″ signatures; only 1,118- quite a rounding error, given the importance of invalidation rates.

Once the petition failure was announced, Hurlbert still refused to accept responsibility for a botched campaign.  Details aside, he lost at the assembly 71-29 percent.  What did he think would change in the next two months to prompt him to be the only Republican who participated in the assembly to try a long-shot petition effort?  Was it that he didn’t have a dime of his own or his wife’s money in the campaign, so what the heck? After all, every dime he spends on the job as DA  involves playing with other people’s money in deciding what should and should not be prosecuted?  He told Lynn Bartels:

“It’s like a court case.  If you’re not happy with the result you appeal, so I’m appealing to the people.”

Actually, private citizens who have  to spend their own money on an appeal need to do a cost-benefit analysis, and can’t just launch an appeal because they’re “not happy” with the result.  But when you use other people’s money, I guess the calculus is different.

After losing this contribution-funded appeal to the people, Hurlbert commented that his  65 percent invalidation rate  might have been a result of  Democrats collecting signatures, as if the career government lawyer can’t be expected to follow the rules.  He even suggested if that pesky and antiquated rule that only Republican signatures count toward the 1,000 wasn’t in the way, the result might have been different.

“That we collected 1,100 signatures in three [sic] days was pretty incredible. I think it does show that I had support among rank-and-file Republicans. And there were also independents and Democrats saying, ‘Mark, I can’t sign, but I support you.’”

When the Summit Daily asked  Hurlbert what he could have done differently, he did not mention any improvements he might have made to his campaign despite the glaring deficiencies. Instead, he took a move from Coach Josh Penry’s  playbook and said he would have avoided the assembly altogether and petitioned from the start.

Hurlbert notably failed to congratulate Tim Leonard on running an outstanding campaign and failed to even muster a phone call after conceding defeat.

Colo. Republican State Senate Candidate Tim Leonard Continues Impressive Fundraising: Surpasses Democrat Opponent Jeanne Nicholson By Huge Margin

Tim Leonard, the Republican candidate for Colorado state Senate District 16, seized the

Tim Leonard with son Andrew, 11

momentum from his 71-29 percent May 21 State Assembly victory, and has turned in  another impressive grassroots  fundraising showing.  Leonard, a conservative/libertarian businessman from Evergreen, raised a total of $69,00o as of May 26,  according to June 1 campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State.  He raised more than any other Republican state Senate candidate in the previous four-month reporting period.

Leonard also used his contributors’ donations effectively, spending only about $12,000.   That leaves Leonard’s campaign with over $56,000 in cash on hand to use against his Democrat opponent.

Political watchers certainly expected Leonard to win a majority of delegates at the Assembly, but ousting his opponent was an upset that surprised even the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels – arguably  Colorado’s savviest political writer.   How has Leonard’s campaign  managed such impressive results  while spending so little  in over five months of campaigning?  Leonard credits his large and well-organized team of volunteers, as well as cost-effective, conservative spending habits instilled as a small business owner.  And of course being on the right side of the issues helps too.

Tim Leonard’s fundraising shows broad support for the Republican state Senate candidate.   Leonard raised money from 333 donors, 122 of whom live in the district.  Leonard’s contributions also include $2,000 from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners PAC.

With the post-Assembly ramp-up of  the campaign season, candidates are required to provide fundraising reports monthly instead of every four months.  The most recent reporting period is April 26 through May 26.  Leonard raised about $8,100 for this period from 53 donors, 33 of whom live in Senate District 16.

Leonard’s liberal Democrat opponent, Jeanne Nicholson, raised a respectable $7,400 in this same period, for a total of $14,245.  Nicholson is a Gilpin County Commissioner, who lives in

Democrat SD 16 Candidate, Jeanne Nicholson

Black Hawk.

Nicholson’s contributions came from about 15o donors,  with roughly 40 percent from people who live in the district.  Many contributors are teachers, health care workers, and government employees.   Nicholson also raised $1,000 from a Democrat small donor PAC. Though she has only $9,300 in cash remaining, this will change soon as the Democrat war chest and 527 groups kick in as anticipated and lavish Nicholson’s campaign with financial assistance. Nicholson did not face a Democrat Assembly opponent.

Tim Leonard’s Republican Assembly opponent, Mark Hurlbert,  failed to make the primary ballot after garnering only 29 percent of the delegate votes.  Hurlbert is the Eagle County district attorney, best known for prosecuting L.A. Lakers basketball star, Kobe Bryant, for sexual assault charges.  The case was eventually dismissed.

Hurlbert made a stealth, 11th hour attempt to petition on the ballot –  ExPat ExLawyer broke the story.  He is the only Republican who participated in the Assembly to try the petition route. Even Hurlbert’s supporters, including state Senator Al White (R-Hayden), with whom I spoke, think Hurlbert’s signature-gathering effort will fall short.

Hurlbert’s campaign has been “lazy and complacent,” according to a knowledgable GOP official who commented off-the-record.  He raised only $10,200 through April 25, compared to

Senate District 16 inlcudes all of Summit, Clear Creek, Grand and Gilpin Counties. It also includes portions of Boulder and Jefferson counties, with the largest number of voters in the foothills and mountains of Jefferson, centered in Evergreen

Leonard’s $62,000.   Hurlbert obtained about $5,100 this past month – mostly from Denver party insiders like Pete Coors, Hank Brown and Jordon Perlmutter, but spent $5,900.   And at least $3,000 went to paid signature collectors.

Most telling, only 17 of Hurlbert’s contributors live in the district.  This should dispel the notion held by supporters such as state Senator Josh Penry, who recruited Hurlbert to run and now manages Jane Norton’s U.S. Senate campaign, that Hurlbert would bring home the frozen bacon from his home base of  Summit County.  Perhaps people from other parts of Colorado mistook the lack of critical coverage of Hurlbert in the local media as a sign of popularity.

Political analysts consider  Senate District 16 a must-win for Republicans to regain control of the state Senate from the Democrats, who hold a 21-14 majority.  Democrat Dan Gibbs now holds the seat, but is not running, and is instead seeking a Summit County Commission slot.  The lack of an incumbent, combined with Democrat fiscal mismanagement nationally and in Colorado,   provides the perfect storm for Tim Leonard.

DA Mark Hurlbert Quietly Initiates 11th Hour Petition Campaign for State Senate; Uses DA Second-in-Command to Collect Signatures UPDATED 5-26 – DP’s Bartels Picks Up ExPat Story; DA Turner Not Listed in New Petition Drive Email

DA Mark Hurlbert, denied an automatic spot on the Republican state Senate ballot after getting

DA Mark Hurlbert - at the Frisco Safeway today, 3-6 (Getty Images Photo)

beaten by Tim Leonard in a 71 to 29 percent defeat,  is now trying to petition on the August primary ballot in an unusual behind-the-scenes effort.  In an email to at least 400 possible supporters/spam recipients, Hurlbert appeared to be reaching out to home town Summit County Republicans with a call to come by the Frisco Safeway store to sign his petition between 3-6 today and yesterday.  The email is aptly titled, “Mark Hurlbert needs your help.”

All other candidates seeking to petition on the Republican primary ballot have announced their intentions publicly through the media.  And they did so primarily to gain as much publicity as possible for their petition drives.  I can only speculate, but in yet another misguided effort in an inept campaign, Hurlbert may have thought if he failed to gain the needed signatures, he could pretend to the public that he never sought the petition route at all, and had instead bowed out gracefully from the race.

Unfortunately for these potential supporters/spam recipients,  Hurlbert failed to blind copy his email list and instead published the names of the  people he sent his email to in an open copy listing all recipients and their email addresses.  To make matters worse, Hurlbert’s email directs recipients to his own second-in-command at the DA’s office, Assistant District Attorney Scott Turner, as one of his two point persons for those wishing to take up the signature-collection cause.   Just as former Colorado Governor Bill Owens appointed Hurlbert DA when his boss moved on to higher office, it would not be a stretch to suggest Scott Turner would be appointed DA by Hurlbert’s kindred spirit,  former career DA Bill Ritter, were Hurlbert to cut short his term as DA by winning the state Senate.

I spoke with Turner, whose cell phone number is listed on the email, late in the night on the 24th.  Turner stated after much cross examination that he would not be conducting such political business for his  boss during DA working hours.  Hurlbert’s blast email, however, puts no such restrictions on the contact time, and in fact announces that if a person can’t meet Hurlbert at the Frisco Safeway between 3-6, “give one of us a call and we will come to you.”  Talk about customer service!

UPDATE: 5-26 – 3:00 p.m. – New Hurlbert petition email removes mention of  ADA Scott Turner. Today I received a new email forwarded to me that Hurlbert appeared to send out at about 9:00 p.m. last night.  The email reveals Hurlbert is now on his own in spearheading the signature collection efforts and he seems to have seen the writing on the wall about the impropriety of using his second-in-command at the DA’s office for the petition effort.  The email is entitled, “The Last 38 Hours,” and all inquiries are now addressed to him, and ADA Scott Turner’s name is not mentioned.  Hurlbert acknowledges the mistake in failing to blind copy the recipients in the May 24 email:

“I also wish to apologize for putting all your e-mails in the “to” line so they could be seen.  I was unfortunately tired and not thinking.”

Still,  Hurlbert shows more lack of attention to detail in this latest signature-gathering effort when he  leaves off one of the digits in his cell phone contact number. Earlier in the campaign, his business cards had his own name spelled incorrectly in his email address.

UPDATE: 5-26 – 2:30 p.m. – Lynn Bartels, the DP’s top political writer at The Spot blog, picked up the story from me and kindly linked to Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer.  Bartels interviewed Hurlbert, who pretended as if he was doing an official announcement of the petition effort, ignoring the stealth effort we pointed out here.  In the Bartels piece, Hurlbert maintains despite his 71-29 percent assembly defeat, he felt compelled to petition on the ballot because he claims his gun rights position was distorted by a gun rights group mailing.  The mailing simply stated that Hurlbert failed to answer their survey about his specific Second Amendment views.  They tried twice to get him to answer, including sending it certified mail.

Based on those non-responses and the absence of any record of  Second Amendment support, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners logically concluded Hurlbert was not a strong  supporter.  Hurlbert’s views are not in writing anywhere, and no mention is made of the issue on his campaign website.   Tim Leonard has always stated his strong support for gun rights on his website, and promptly answered the survey to the RMGO’s satisfaction.  They endorsed Leonard and opposed Hurlbert.

Ironically, Hurlbert failed to use this ideal opportunity with Bartels to say exactly what his views are on gun rights, making it even more obvious that this gun rights “distortion” is a pretext for his unwillingness to face the reality of not just the assembly results, but his inability to bring in even less conservative Republicans aboard his campaign as either volunteers or contributors.

And Hurlbert had this same cavalier attitude about signing the taxpayer protection, CUT pledge.  He took over three months to fulfill that promise, despite continual reminders.   A party activist who holds a leadership position and is sympathetic to Hurlbert, nevertheless told me that he has to take these obligations seriously if he expects to be a viable candidate.

Hurlbert used a particularly inapt analogy for 2010, but a revealing one for this career prosecutor:

“It’s like a court case,” Hurlbert said today. “If you’re not happy with the result you appeal, so I’m appealing to the people.”

For the former Kobe Bryant prosecutor,  everything is like a court case and probably always will be.  But an appeal usually has a cost,  though as a government lawyer he could freely use tax dollars to pay for an appeal of anything he’s “not happy with.”   Hurlbert has the perfect legal right under Colorado law to petition. But his disingenuousness and stealth techniques should assure the assembly delegates and other Republicans that the Assembly put the right candidate on the ballot.]

Absent  further action by Hurlbert, most Republicans assumed he would not seek to petition on the ballot.  Hurlbert  must collect 1,000 verified registered Republican signatures by May 27. Experts say to be safe, he would need to collect a total of 2,000 signatures.

I’m not a DA charged with important matters like homicides, or protecting the identity of rape victims or anything, but I do know the difference between “cc” and “bcc” and won’t be so irresponsible as to embarrass those who are on Hurlbert’s email list by publishing the names of the recipients.

I will mention a couple, though.  One name that stands out  helps confirm what we’ve been saying about Hurlbert’s suspect conservative credentials since he announced his candidacy in January. Norman Brownstein is the lead partner in the liberal Democrat law firm in which popular (but Dem) Boulder DA and AG candidate, Stan Garnett, was a partner.  Brownstein’s contribution recipients include Christopher Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton – something that probably made RINO Hurlbert feel right at home.

Hurlbert’s wife, Cathy Cheroutes, comes from a liberal, activist Democrat legal clan that contributed roughly one-third of Hurlbert’s meagre $10,200 in reported fundraising.  They’re on the list.  So is Summit County party chair Debra Irvine, a seemingly campaign-free, stealth  “candidate” for House District 56 .  I was surprised to see her name here since Hurlbert has aligned himself so often with her Democrat opponent, incumbent Christine Scanlan, and also because party chairpersons are supposed to stay neutral.

I was not surprised, though, by this desperate petition drive.  Hurlbert has never held a job in the private sector and has made it obvious that he wants no part of having to fend for himself in a market-based economy.  Word up in gossipy Summit County is that District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle is holding off on a his retirement timing to see if Hurlbert needs his judicial post to hang onto that PERA pension.

Mountain Bike Racer Charged with Felony In Leadville Race, Pleads to Misdemeanor: DA Hurlbert Drops Felony Against Wendy Lyall Under Public Pressure

Colorado Mountain bike racer, Wendy Lyall,  who used her friend’s registration  number to ride in a Leadville race last year and was charged with a felony,  appeared in court today and plead guilty to a misdemeanor trespass charge.   DA Mark Hurlbert dropped the felony criminal impersonation charge he originally filed against her, and instead Lyall will receive a deferred judgment under which she’ll be required to write a letter of apology and perform 45 hours of bicycle safety instruction.

The deferred judgment settlement represents the most lenient and speedy resolution of  the case possible, short of an outright dismissal.  It is not the type of resolution one would anticipate after the filing of a felony charge.  As we first reported, in a piece that gained national attention, this result should be considered a victory for grassroots activists and ordinary citizens to get out the message when they feel government officials are not representing them.

Mark Hurlbert himself got that message at the Colorado Republican Assembly on Friday  where his state Senate bid was quashed when he failed to qualify for the GOP primary ballot in August. Hurlbert was crushed by opponent Tim Leonard, 71 to 29 percent.

The fact remains, that a better resolution for everyone concerned could have and should have come without criminal charges.  I just finished an interview with race director, Ken Chlouber.  As we first reported, he wanted criminal charges dropped, as well as information privately conveyed to him that could help him improve security procedures at the race.  Chlouber confirmed that he knew nothing about the plea bargain until after court was over.  DA Hurlbert failed Chlouber in not securing this reasonable request, and managed to also fail Lyall, Chlouber and the public by not simply dropping criminal charges.

Hurlbert still damaged Wendy Lyall far more than this plea deal indicates because Hurlbert meted out so much  “extra-judicial” punishment before she ever stepped foot in court simply by filing unwarranted felony charges.

I don’t know Lyall, but I’ve heard from quite a few people who do know her, and  I doubt she would have needed a felony prosecution to agree to teach 45 hours of  bicycle safety.  Chlouber was very outspoken in our interview this evening, so much so that it warrants a separate article while I get out these basics about the case.

Under the deferred judgment plea, the case will be dismissed in one year as long as Lyall performs her two requirements of the apology letter and the bike safety instruction.  The record of the case is then automatically sealed and she will have no official criminal conviction or even a record of the charges.   Lyall will also be able to have the felony arrest record sealed upon application to the court and the payment of a filing fee.

Her friend, Katie Brazelton, who was injured and could not compete in the race and who gave her race packet to Lyall, faces a June 7 court appearance on a charge of  felony conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation.

Ali Hasan Ends Colo. Treasurer Bid – Will Not Attempt Ballot Petition; Mark Hurlbert Should Follow Suit in Senate District 16

Ali Hasan, a Republican  candidate for Colorado Treasurer, just announced on his website that he will not seek to petition his way on the August primary ballot.  Hasan’s  announcement follows a stunning loss at yesterday’s Colorado Republican State Assembly, where J.J. Ament won 79 percent of the vote and Hasan only 20 percent.  By failing to win at least 30 percent, Hasan was out of the race unless he chose to pursue a petition signature path.

Hasan stated he  is “against” the petition option:

From the start of the campaign, we committed to the Assembly process.

And while a substantial amount of delegates gave us their support, we were still short of qualifying – with that said, I am a man of my word – I respect the decision of our good activists and we end our campaign here

Hasan should be applauded not only for making the right decision for the GOP and for Colorado, but by deciding quickly.  With the huge and enthusiastic turnout for the Assembly, that momentum should not be wasted in further intra-party skirmishes.

Hasan did not mention in his statement whether he would be endorsing either of his Treasurer race rivals, J.J. Ament or Walker Stapleton (who did not participate in the Assembly and is petitioning on the ballot).  Hasan noted, however,  “I look forward to helping our State Senate and House candidates win back Colorado in 2010 – and I’m really really looking forward to getting back to film directing.”

State Senate District 16 candidate, DA Mark Hurlbert,  should follow his friend’s lead after his crushing loss in that race to Tim Leonard at Friday’s District Assembly.  Leonard defeated Hurlbert by 71 percent to 29 percent,  which could free up Leonard to devote his energy and resources to beating Democrat Jeanne Nicholson, a Gilpin County Commissioner.

Some of Hurlbert’s  supporters argue that he is more “electable” in November.  At best,  this theory is based on a 2008 notion of electability, and 2010 is a very different year.  The conservative base is wildly motivated, as the grassroots assembly sweep amply demonstrates. Hurlbert’s poor showing is in part a grassroots reaction against party leaders’ attempts to handpick candidates.

Still, a petition-based challenge  would be fair enough had Hurlbert demonstrated some sort of significant support base of his own outside the conservative delegate majority with which to challenge Leonard.  But Hurlbert did not.  He ran a listless campaign that generated few volunteers and paltry fundraising.  Significantly, he found little support within the district, obtaining only nine campaign contributions in over three months of campaigning (Leonard received 89).

While Leonard raised more funds in the most recent quarter than any other GOP state Senate candidate in Colorado, generating 280 contributions and over $65,000 raised to date,  Hurlbert managed only $10,200 and a total of 39 contributors.  Of that total, $2,000 came from Ali Hasan and four of his family members-making up almost 20 percent of Hurlbert’s total fundraising.  Another $3,200 came from members of Hurlbert’s extended family.  Deducting those donors, leaves Hurlbert with only $5,000 cash raised from 27 separate donors.

For the sake of the great shot Republicans have to regain control of the state Senate with a victory in this crucial district,  Mark Hurlbert should promptly call it quits, and unite behind Tim Leonard.

Colo. Campaign Links May 10-16: Leonard, Hill, Odom; Roberts or Boehler – Likely GOP Senate Pickups; House Pickup Possibles; Frazier vs. Sias; Buck vs. Norton: Buck Calls Palin Speech “Rude” – UPDATED 5-18 on Buck-Palin Scuffle

Colorado’s State Senate 21-14 Dem Majority could switch with four probable GOP pickups -writes Ben Degrow at Mt Virtus.  Ben’s  order of likelihood:  Senate District 6, 16, 20, and 11. Much of the following analysis is mine and not necessarily written by Ben.

1. SD 6- Durango, Montrose.  Rep.  Ellen Roberts or conservative upstart Dean Boehler will oust appointed “Sen. One-year,” Bruce Whitehead.  2.  SD 16Tim Leonard of Evergreen topped all GOP state Senate candidates in fundraising, faces MIA primary opposition from career DA Mark Hurlbert of Breckenridge, and will confront a relatively unknown lib Dem County Commissioner from tiny Gilpin County, Jeanne Nicholson,  in the general.

3.  SD 20 in Jefferson County showcases John Odom sitting on $50k with no primary and two Dems without much dinero facing off.  4. SD 11 in Colorado Springs is fortunate to have gained Owen Hill as a bright young talent, with a jaw dropping resume, and a campaign that just keeps gaining momentum.  Owen was second in fundraising, and has close to $30k in the bank.  Hill’s donations came from over 200 contributors.   He’s poised to oust Dem disaster, Maj. Leader John Morse. Hill’s Airforce and strategic planning background will be put to the test once Dem war chest deployed.

Ben Degrow has lots of links and more analysis of these and all the other state Senate races.   Visualize 18-17 GOP majority after November.  A must read.

Colo. House  Analysis – Ben Degrow predicts “tiny edge” for GOP House Majority. Ben analyzes every race and notes the GOP is going for the gusto in 64 out of 65 house districts.  I’m a tiny bit more bullish than my seasoned and savvy colleague.  Two of my personal newcomer favorites, who face tough Dem incumbents, have been using their private sector backgrounds to work hard and connect with all sorts of voters that in the past might have gone knee-jerk Dem. So I will give an edge, with no modifier about how big the edge is, to  Robert Ramirez in north Jeffco’s HD 29 and Danny Stroud in Denver’s HD Number 1.  I interviewed Ramirez in April and look forward to publishing an interview with smart, creative and articulate Danny Stroud soon.  Both are limited government, pro-Constitution conservatives who’ve signed the CUT pledge.

Frazier-Sias Cong. Dist. 7 Campaign Gets Testy – Businessword’s Don Johnson and Ben Degrow have been all over this one.  First it was Lang Sias supporters whining about Ryan Frazier missing a chunk of Aurora City Council meetings.  Yawn.

Sias vs. Frazier

If  Frazier had an obsessive attendance record we should be concerned both about his intelligence and his sanity.  Don Johnson notes that Frazier supporters could point to Sias’ day job as a FedEx pilot that keeps him out of town a couple of weeks a month.  That could certainly impede a full-time Congressional campaign against Dem incumbent Ed Perlmutter.

Then there’s Bob Beauprez’s enigmatic endorsement of Sias.  Ben Degrow is all over this one (are these guys playing tag team?).  Don Johnson notes that Sias may be milking the defamatory smear email he received for a heck of a lot more than it’s worth.  Maybe even milking it so much as to imply a linkage to the Frazier campaign.  Finally, Ben Degrow has some great coverage of  Lang Sias’ upcoming DC fundraiser with guest of honor, John McCain.

Norton Gets Palin “Pink Elephant” Endorsement (sort of); Buck’s Budgets Praised by Weld Commissioners – Curtis Hubbard at The Spot cited a WSJ Washington Wire piece where Palin “tiptoes” into the Colorado U.S.  Senate race  by including Jane Norton among her herd of pink elephants.  “Look out, Washington,” Palin said. “There’s a whole stampede of pink elephants” coming this November.  Other GOP women Palin mentioned include California’s Carly Fiorini who will be taking on a vulnerable Barbara Boxer should Fiorini win the primary.  Sarah Palin will be speaking in Denver on May 22.  Norton will be free to attend Palin’s speech, as she is skipping the state assembly taking place the same day, and will instead petition her way onto the primary ballot.

[Breaking News: Allison Sherry at The Spot reports  late 5-17 Ken Buck said Sarah Palin speaking during the Assembly would be “rude.” Updated: 5-18 – The DP’s Chuck Plunkett reports Palin speech in the works since last November, long before Norton’s bid to skip the assembly, and not in the least bit “rude.”  Allison Sherry also has a new and expanded piece on the topic. Finally, Allison Sherry reports new poll numbers showing narrowing gap between Buck and Norton.  One thing beyond debate, Allison Sherry is one busy reporter.

Was it an endorsement?   Don Johnson thinks it’s “pretty close,” and so do I given the timing of Palin’s stopover in Colorado.

Norton’s GOP Senate rival, Weld County DA Ken Buck, got an endorsement of sorts of his own this past week – from Weld County’s Commissioners.   A little background.  In March, I did some work collecting the DA budgets of Ken Buck and  Mark Hurlbert, and observed that Hurlbert’s had gone up every year, including during the recession, yet case filings had gone down as a result of reduced population and visitor numbers in the mountain resort counties in Hurlbert’s district.

Don Johnson noted, based on my article and the links to the budgets, that Buck’s budgets had increased too and wondered why.   I had Hurlbert’s case filing data, but not Buck’s.  Shortly thereafter, Don interviewed Ken Buck and also did his own analysis of Buck’s budgets.   Johnson concluded they seemed reasonable given the population increases.   He also concluded Buck seemed to spend the funds wisely in succesful efforts to reduce crime.

Nevertheless,  the Norton campaign still tried to use the raw budget data as some evidence that Buck was not a fiscal conservative.  Now, according to The Spot,  the Weld County Commissioners have publicly pointed out the same thing Don Johnson had already concluded.

DA Hurlbert’s  Latest Big Government Legal  Folly Garner’s National Audience for Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer – Reason Magazine’s Radley Balko posted our story on Hurlbert’s novel felony criminal law incursion on cheating in middle-aged, female, amateur mountain bike racing, at his popular blog, The Agitator. Radley’s link,  as well as  links from many other blogs, including Paterrico and Colorado mountain biking blogs,  provided around 6,000 reads for this story.  Even the normally Hurlbert-compliant Denver Post published an editorial this past weekend criticising Hurlbert.

Hurlbert’s  gratuitous and politically tone-deaf  legal misadventure followed his taking two straight weeks off out-of-state in April, right before the fundraising deadline.   Now,  even the really compliant hometown Summit Daily has reported on Hurlbert’s  weak  campaign fundraising (which was  reported here first, in more detail).  Read Hurlbert’s own quotes and see how much they sound like something  Bill Ritter would say.