Update, 12:14 p.m.: Just received an e-mail from Todd Shepherd, who now recalls Peter Boyles seeing a copy of a February 2008 letter described below around the time of its writing, after at first being uncertain if that was the case. Read on for details.
Earlier today, we shared with you a letter written by Dick Reeve, Denver chief deputy district attorney/general counsel, implying that KHOW talk-show host Peter Boyles has known about the existence of a letter confirming a 2006 threat against then-gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter for over a year, making his questions about the veracity of such an incident highly irresponsible.
Boyles responds by categorically denying any knowledge about the existence of the letter prior to this week: "I swear on my mother, if I'd have had that letter, I would have used it," he says.
The Independence Institute's Todd Shepherd, the former KOA reporter to whom Denver Police Department records coordinator Mary Dulacki addressed the February 2008 letter in question, initially was uncertain if he'd shown Boyles the letter, as reflected in the initial version of this blog. After further reflection, however, he's certain Boyles did see the letter last year, but understands why it might have slipped his mind.
In the meantime, Boyles has gotten his hands on a fascinating letter of his own, penned by Kathleen Hopkins, the Ritter volunteer who dealt with the individual who made the alleged threat. In the document, on view below, she dismisses the danger and encourages Representative Mike Coffman to oppose the confirmation of Stephanie Villafuerte as U.S. Attorney -- the prospect that's fueling this controversy.
After reading the Reeve letter, Boyles scoffs at a passage accusing him of "likely defaming" DA staffer Chuck Lepley "by making the unfounded, outrageous and extremely offensive accusation that this threat situation actually did not occur and Mr. Lepley committed perjury in U.S. District Court in his testimony before Judge Kane."
He then recounts what he sees as contradictions between Lepley's comments during pre-trial interviews involving fired ICE agent Cory Voorhis, when Lepley didn't mention the threat against Ritter, and his official testimony, when he did.
Far from proving to him that a serious threat had actually occurred, the Todd Shepherd letter leaves Boyles singularly unconvinced. "It's a damning letter," Boyles says. "Everybody has laughed at the letter, including members of the Denver Police Department."
Yesterday, Boyles notes, he met with police reps who gave him pages from the DPD manual regarding offense reports, questioning of witnesses and more; see the pages here. He believes these regulations undermine assertions in the Shepherd letter that attempt to explain the lack of additional paperwork about the threat.
In a separate conversation, Shepherd said he couldn't remember if he provided Boyles with a copy of the February 2008 letter sent to him by the DPD's Dulacki. Even though he was officially a KOA staffer, he did a great deal of reporting about the Villafuerte matter on KHOW because of Boyles' interest in the subject. Over time, he estimated that he filed between ten and twenty requests for information to various agents, with a sizable number of those involving the alleged threat.
On one occasion, Shepherd recalled showing Boyles a letter from Dulacki -- he didn't remember which one, and suspected there may have been several. He and the host discussed it on the air, he said, and he thought Boyles even read from it. He also recalled a phone conversation afterward with Dulacki, who disputed their conclusions regarding the DPD's lack of additional documentation about the threat.
An hour-plus later, Shepherd sent an e-mail written after having a chance to give the matter more thought. Here are the key passages:
I DO in fact remember Peter reading from the Feb, 2008 letter on-air. I specifically remember this because I tried once or twice to correct his pronunciation of "Saunier." [Lieutenant Ron Saunier was mentioned in the document.] As to any other specifics of what Mr. Boyles and I discussed on-air regarding this letter from the Denver Department of Safety, I cannot recall. However, if I had to take a guess, and that's all I'm doing here, I'd bet Pete and I focused any of our conversations on the last line of the Dulacki letter, which reads, "I have no writings, reports, assessments, or telephone logs related to this incident."
Still, I'm not surprised that Peter doesn't remember this letter specifically. It was one in a series of about 2 or 3 attempts (either via the Dept. of Safety or from the Denver DA's office) to locate any ORIGINAL documentation of the alleged threat to Mr. Ritter. Given that the letter only concerned "recollections" of phone conversations and did not produce any hard documentation, I can imagine that Peter was underwhelmed, and therefore didn't make a greater mental note of the letter.
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Boyles certainly doesn't forget seeing another letter -- one just received from Kathleen Hopkins, a Ritter volunteer who was the first person involved in the campaign to meet with the allegedly threatening individual, described only as "the Romanian." She describes him as being more of a pest than a threat and notes that she never observed any additional police scrutiny or activity as a result of his visits to the Ritter campaign office.
Hopkins concludes that the threat was exaggerated to cover up Villafuerte's accessing of a criminal database for political reasons, and urges Congressman Coffman to oppose her confirmation as U.S. Attorney.
Here's her letter:
Dear Rep. Coffman,
I am the Ritter Campaign volunteer who first greeted the "Romanian" when he came into the office. I know Peter Boyles told you much the same information that I can give you, but I felt that it's important for me to say it all again.
Let me start by telling what I believe happened that started this mess. I believe that someone (probably Stephanie Villafuerte) in the campaign office called the District Attorney's office and asked them to look up the identity of Walter Ramos in the NCIC data bank and see if he was the same person as a Mr. Estrada Medina who appeared in the Beauprez campaign ad. The information confirmed that they were the same person. At that point, Bill Ritter accused the Beauprez campaign of "breaking the law." I believe no one on either side broke the law. As I have learned in the years since, the NCIC information is not secret. The public has a right to know this information. Ritter's campaign decided to fight back the accusations in the ad by accusing Cory Voorhis of breaking the law. The ICE agent was doing his job by accessing this information. A year later, after Voorhis was completely ruined, the people in the Governor's office could not admit that they had also accessed the NCIC data without admitting that Voorhis did not break any laws.
Apparently, they believed that they had found a clever answer to why there were so many calls between the DA's office and the campaign. I suppose it never occurred to them that someone who worked in the campaign office and first met this "Romanian" would also have been sitting in court the day Chuck Lepley testified that there was a death threat from this "Romanian" that involved Bill Ritter, his family and the campaign office. I recognized the description of the "Romanian" and knew I was the first one who spoke to him.
He came into the office in the late afternoon one day (I don't remember the date but I feel certain it was in Sept. 2006). I asked if I could help him. He said he wanted to see Bill Ritter. I told him Mr. Ritter was not in. He repeated he wanted to see him. I asked why, and he said that he wanted to talk about "policies." I was having trouble understanding him because of his accent, so I signaled Ruben Valdez to come and talk to him. Ruben took him to a desk where they sat and talked for about 15 to 20 minutes. Their voices were low so it didn't sound like anything important. The "Romanian" left. No threats, shouting or difficulty with him.
A couple of weeks later, I was told that he had come into the office again. At that time, a staffer had copied a picture of him with instructions to not let him talk to Bill and to call Ruben if we had trouble getting rid of him. There was never a hint of any threat -- beyond him being a pest.
There was never a sign of any threat or tension regarding this man. No one ever talked to me about him. I never saw police anywhere around. Because of the way the office was physically situated, there would have been no way patrolling police could have seen anything inside. There were many evenings when young college kids as well as Ritter's sons were in the office with no sign of any protection. There were many, many honk and waves that I attended where there was no sign of police. I remember one large gathering that took place after the Oct. 10th date that was also devoid of police. I know it was after Oct. 10th because some of the Ritter volunteers where making jokes about the Beauprez ad.
I don't know why Gov. Ritter chose to persecute Voorhis, particularly after he won. Personally, I think it was just petty revenge. However, in order to maintain that Voorhis was a "criminal" and belong in jail (even after he was acquitted), the people involved had to come up with a "reasonable" answer to why there were so many calls back and forth. All of it is a lie, and no one who perpetuated this lie should either sit in the governor's office or have a cushy US Attorney job.
I urge you to work to oppose this appointment.