Pitkin County sheriff candidates discuss drug use at Squirm Night
Some have been skeptical about claims made by Sheriff Bob Braudis and challenger Rick Magnuson that they have not done illegal drugs while in law enforcement, though no evidence has come forth to the contrary. Both have admitted using substances in foreign countries that would be illegal in America. So far, there have been no repercussions from the statements they made on GrassRoots TV’s Squirm Night.Braudis said Tuesday that he stands by what he said in the debate.Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson said he had not heard about Magnuson’s statement before Tuesday. He said a community safety officer such as Magnuson would undergo less scrutiny than a police officer during the hiring process. The Aspen Police Department does not perform random drug testing, but drug use by an officer would be problematic, Ryerson said. “If we found out about it, we would have to investigate it,” he said, and continued on that he would not talk about Magnuson specifically. “You’re the first one who told me that has occurred, so I’m not going to comment.”Braudis’ statement has received the most scrutiny from the public. Readers of The Aspen Times have sent a number of e-mails questioning Braudis’ claim that he has only used drugs that are illegal in the United States in countries where they are legal. At Squirm Night last week, Magnuson first answered the question about drug use by saying, “Yeah, in Amsterdam two years ago. Soft drugs.”Then Braudis laughed and said, “Yeah, in Amsterdam.””Bob told me where to go,” Magnuson continued. When pressed on the issue, Braudis said, “Not since I’ve been sheriff.”Braudis was not joking, however, when he said, “in Amsterdam.” On Tuesday, the sheriff said he had used drugs in other countries. But he declined to clarify when or where that occurred.According to friends of both candidates, however, there doesn’t seem to be evidence that either has used illegal drugs in the U.S. while in office.”In the last 20 years, there were two times I took soft drugs in Amsterdam that were legal there,” Magnuson said. “I would consider soft drugs to be marijuana or anything related to marijuana. That’s the only drug I’ve ever done.”Some have questioned how Braudis could have such a tight relationship with Hunter S. Thompson and not do drugs. But people close to Braudis and Thompson say that idea shows a misunderstanding of their friendship. “That’s baloney, that’s guilt by association,” said former Aspen Mayor John Bennett. “I didn’t sit at Hunter’s home and do drugs, nor did the other people who I saw visit Hunter. I never saw Hunter do anything illegal in front of Bob; he had way too much respect to do that.”Anita Thompson, Hunter’s widow, agreed with Bennett, saying she never saw Braudis do any illegal drugs.”Reporters have asked Hunter if he did drugs in front of the sheriff,” said Thompson. “[Hunter] brushed them off because he was above that. It was a nonissue. As far as I know, he never put Bob in the position to decide between the law and a friend.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail is email@example.com
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