Yesterday, former Denver elections commissioner Jan Tyler, currently a blogger for Examiner.com, penned an item entitled "Is Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Having an Affair with Stephanie Villafuerte?"
At this writing, and for well over an hour earlier, clicking on this link has brought up the following message: "Article Not Ready. This article is currently being published. It should be available for viewing in 5 minutes." But its first line is visible when searching through Google News. It reads: "The Senate Judiciary should ask Stephanie Villafuerte, are you now or did you ever have an extramarital affair with Governor Bill Ritter?"
To which veteran political observers in Colorado are likely to sigh, "Here we go again..."
Ever since Colorado Governor Roy Romer admitted to having an affair with aide B.J. Thornberry (years after Westword was excoriated for reporting on whispers about such a relationship), rumors about affairs have followed the men who've held this particular office.
For proof, check out this April 2004 column, which collected the various claims about former Governor Bill Owens. We documented the top twenty tales going around at the time, none of which were accompanies by the slightest evidence to back them up:
1. Owens is having an affair with an aide from his first campaign for governor.
2. Owens is having an affair with an aide from his earlier campaign for treasurer.
3. Owens is having an affair with an attorney in the governor's office.
4. Owens is having an affair with an attorney in another state government department.
5. Owens is having an affair with an intern at the governor's office.
6. Owens is having an affair with an underage intern at the governor's office.
7. Owens is having an affair with a principal at a local school.
8. Owens is having an affair with a neighbor in Centennial.
9. Owens is having an affair with political cohort Marc Holtzman, who is, in fact, male, and who recently announced his engagement -- to a female.
10. Owens's children discovered that he was having an affair with an unknown woman. They confronted him and threw him out of the house.
11. The woman in item one was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
12. The woman in item four was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
13. The woman in item five was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
14. A woman impregnated by Owens is due to give birth any minute.
15. A woman impregnated by Owens recently gave birth. She and the child are in Wyoming.
16. A woman impregnated by Owens recently gave birth. She and the child are in Montana.
17. A woman impregnated by Owens is living with him in the governor's mansion along with her other child, age six.
18. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's eighteen months old.
19. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's six years old.
20. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's twelve years old.
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Ritter has been dogged by similar gossip, with the most mainstream example being a September 2008 Denver Post article quoting former advisor Greg Kolomitz implying that Ritter turned against him following a 2006 conversation during which he and partner Sheila MacDonald talked to him about allegedly getting "too cozy" with a female aide. See the blog "Denver Post's Ritter Affair Fishing Expedition Goes Nowhere" for more details.
While Villafuerte wasn't identified in that article as the aide in question, insiders suspected she was the person to whom Kolomitz was referring. Since then, such folks have speculated that this suspicion has fueled the Post's interest in stirring controversy over Villafuerte's nomination as U.S. Attorney.
Little problem: Just as was the case with Owens, there's zero proof that anything went on (or is going on) between Ritter and Villafuerte. But Tyler's blog will keep the grapevine busy -- when and if people can read it again...