In March 2008, Ali Hasan, currently running as a Republican candidate for Colorado Treasurer, was the subject of a court-issued temporary civil restraining order, which in turn lead to a
criminal investigation of the case by DA Mark Hurlbert, a Republican candidate for state Senate District 16. The facts of the underlying claims are disputed. Alison Miller, a former girlfriend of Hasan’s, and an activist Republican and publicist for his 2008 campaign for House District 56, alleged that after a breakup, Hasan harassed her and hacked into her computer. Hasan disputes this as a smear campaign.
Unfortunately, without assistance from Hasan and Hurlbert, this “he said, she said” dispute can’t really be sorted out because the entire Eagle County court records on the case are inexplicably missing, as if the case never existed. See Update of 4-19 here.
DA Mark Hurlbert, a friend and political supporter of Hasan’s back in 2008 and continuing today, evaluated the case for possible criminal charges. He didn’t bring any, he didn’t issue a press release as to why not, and he failed to comment about why he personally handled the case despite the apparent conflict of interest. He easily could have and should have handed the case off to a special prosecutor, such as a DA from neighboring Glenwood Springs.
As Don Johnson pointed out, I first raised these concerns in early March. Despite never being charged criminally, the wealthy Republican scion hired members of the Kobe Bryant defense team to represent him. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s a smart move if you can afford it. But as Don Johnson noted in following the exchanges with Hasan today over at Ben Degrow’s Mount Virtus blog, undoubtedly Alison Miller didn’t have the resources to fight Hasan given his vast wealth.
Read Michael Riley’s detailed article from the Denver Post in its entirety. He notes in a heading to a section of the article, Hasan’s “Future may lie with DA.” I spoke with Riley last week, and he confirmed that Mark Hurlbert had indeed been investigating the case, and he spoke at length with Hurlbert. Ali Hasan and I engaged in a form of blog comment/interview at Ben Degrow’s Mount Virtus site over the past two days. Don Johnson reported on the exchange and agreed Ali Hasan was being cagey when he said he “didn’t know” whether DA Hurlbert had investigated him. Based on the Post article, Hasan’s mother certainly seemed to know.
The purpose of this investigative post is not to judge whether “he” or “she” is correct in his or her different versions of events. Instead, my aim is to explore the transparency and ethics questions posed by the case, a major theme of this blog.
I spoke with two different court clerks to verify how no record whatsoever could exist of proceedings that both “he and she” admitted took place. Both clerks told me it’s as if the restraining order action had never even been filed, though both Hasan and Miller agree that it had. I asked both clerks if it had it been sealed. No, it hadn’t. It’s just not there. “Ellie” at Eagle County, and Summit Combined Courts head clerk, Jan Reed, who has access to all Fifth Judicial District Records, confirmed today exactly what Ellie told me on April 8: It’s not there. And it’s not sealed. And despite Hasan’s unsupported claims in our blog exchange, such secrecy is not in the least normal in the American legal system.
Ali Hasan is exuberantly outspoken as usual about his friendship and the campaign help Hurlbert provided him during his 2008 campaign. Hasan made these points in the comments section in February on Ben Degrow’s blog post endorsing Hurlbert’s opponent for Senate District 16, conservative Evergreen businessman, Tim Leonard. Hasan commented that a post of mine, opining Hurlbert is a RINO, made him “sick to his stomach.” Hasan continued:
I ran for House District 56 as a Republican in 2008, with almost everyone in the world giving no chance of winning – I ended up with 47% of the vote (outpacing McCain and Schaffer by around an 11% average), almost unseating a Democratic incumbent Mark Hurlbert was a big reason behind this because he helped me tremendously in my getting to know Summit and Lake Counties…
Now, with his case resolved and Hurlbert declining to file charges, flash forward to the August 2009 Lincoln Day event in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and the comments Hasan made there. Here’s the raw video:
At about the 2:38 mark, Ali Hasan shouts out this hyperbolic praise for Hurlbert: “Mark, you’re the greatest DA in the world!” Hurlbert smiles, and says, “thanks Ali.” Then Ali used the opportunity to get Hurlbert to promote his (ultimately failed) campaign to extend his term limits from two, to three four-year terms. The conflict of interest topic came up last night and today, once again on Ben Degrow’s blog, which seems to be serving as a modern-day political salon. Hasan backed off from his August comments about Hurlbert, and now only views him as the “greatest DA in the U.S.” Here’s some more excerpts from my exchanges with Hasan:
There was a false restraining order requested against me around February of 2008 – this request was made in Eagle County Courts, outside the jurisdiction of the DA’s office In March of 2008, after I had hired a lawyer, the request was withdrawn and shortly after, completely vacated by a Judge in Eagle County, as it was found to be baseless I personally no longer have the original request – in regards to Eagle County no longer having the request on file, that is likely because a Judge in Eagle County vacated it – which had nothing to do with the DA’s office. I was innocent of all accusations and I’m glad that the Eagle County Courts agreed – again, a Judge in Eagle County vacated the Order, not Mark Hurlbert – so if you’re upset that it was vacated, then you would have to speak with the Judge in Eagle County.
It’s hard to know where to begin with this. First, the temporary restraining order was apparently granted by a judge, and Hasan offers no evidence it was “false.” With a strangely eradicated court file that indicates none of the court hearings that obviously took place ever did, it’s hard to judge the rest of his argument. That’s why we have open court proceedings in the U.S., where the media and public can obtain transcripts to find out what really took place.
And though I have no concerns at all about the TRO being vacated, it would be helpful if Hasan would indicate who the judge was who did the alleged vacating. One thing is clear – if complaining witness Alison Miller withdrew the order, in other words, did not pursue a permanent restraining order, the judge would never reach the issue of innocence or guilt, and vacating the original restraining order would have been a bureaucratic function at most.
Thus, it appears Ali Hasan is being inaccurate in stating he received some form of acquittal on the merits. He didn’t. If I’m wrong, this candidate wishing to manage all of Colorado’s money can supply the transcript.
But Hasan was unwilling even to supply the court case number. Given the inexplicably missing record, I thought this would give me a third shot at finding any record that the proceedings ever occurred. He tried to cop-out that he didn’t have it on him, and I pointed out (as if I needed to) that he could ask his high-priced attorneys and they would readily supply it. He demurred, stating he’s put all this behind him. He fails to realize as a candidate for Treasurer, it’s not all about him.
Both Hurlbert and Hasan need to release all records to the public concerning these public proceedings voluntarily. Mark Hurlbert also needs to explain why he failed to appoint a special prosecutor. Though I believe this would be only a half-measure, why did Hurlbert handle what Hasan maintains is such a bogus case himself, instead of assigning it to a deputy DA? Hurlbert also needs to use his powers as DA to help restore the court file, and find out how it got cleansed from public existence.