Truden clears way for recall election
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Saying she wants voters to decide her fate, District Attorney Colleen Truden said Wednesday she would not protest any of the more than 6,000 signatures gathered by recall proponents.
Her decision clears the way for an election in which residents of the 9th Judicial District will vote on whether to keep her and, if not, who they want to replace her. Gov. Bill Owens will schedule a vote that will take place sometime between Nov. 14 and Dec. 13, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
Truden’s decision came as yet another accusation was leveled at her. Truden said she had solicited employees in her office for money for her recall defense fund. One employee of the judicial district complained to Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who called the requests inappropriate.
Truden spoke on the steps of the Garfield County Courthouse before about two dozen reporters from all over the state. The leaders of the recall effort stood behind the press, at times shaking their heads at her statements.
Reading from a prepared statement, she blasted her opponents for spreading “lies and distortions.”
“These lies and distortions have no basis in fact,” she said. “They have been concocted by a few individuals who have petty personal agendas against me and the office I lead, a few individuals who have no problem wasting taxpayer money for their selfish vendettas.”
She listed several attributes of her tenure, including “a 57 percent increase in bringing new felony cases.”
Recall candidate Martin Beeson, a former deputy district attorney under Truden, sharply criticized that figure after the press conference.
“Was this district lawless in the past eight years?” he asked. “If not, has their been a 57 percent increase in the last nine, 10 months that’s caused this 57 percent increase in felony filings? What has caused this? What this tells me is the crime rate has increased drastically under her watch. Now is a good time to commit a crime in this district.”
Regarding the most recent criticism, Houpt said the employee told her that Truden was calling office staff at home to have them contribute. It is distressing that Truden is using such tactics, she said.
“It puts pressure on employees that is not appropriate. I think there is concern of potential retribution,” Houpt said. “It’s simply not appropriate to approach employees in that manner. I think it’s really pushing beyond a line that any elected official should go beyond.”
Asked about the allegation at the press conference, Truden answered with a question.
“Have I sought contributions for my campaign? Yes, I have,” she said.
A reporter then asked whether she had specifically called her staff, and she again answered with a question.
“Have I called my staff, who are citizens and have a right to contribute? Yes, I have talked to some of my staff,” she said.
Asked whether she thought that might make some employees uncomfortable, she said it was an interesting question.
“They work in the office, they support the office,” Truden said. “They don’t have to contribute. It’s their right if they want to.”
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