The nomination of Stephanie Villafuerte as U.S. Attorney wasn't supposed to have been this complicated. But in recent weeks, implications that she may have improperly participated in accessing a criminal database (an act thatled to the firing of former ICE agent Cory Voorhis
) prompted her to writea letter to Senator Mark Udall
attempting to mute such charges.
Didn't work -- and Colorado GOP boss Dick Wadhams sensed blood in the water. He eventually sent Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman a letter asking him to corroborate a 2006 threat against now Governor Bill Ritter, which Villafuerte had referenced but Whitman had declined to confirm to the Denver Post.
Now, Whitman has replied to Wadhams with two more letters posted by KHOW -- one he penned personally, in which he confirmed that he was "aware" of the threat against Ritter, and a second a 2008 missive to then-KOA employee Todd Shepherd (currently with the Independence Institute) from DPD records coordinator Mary Dulacki.
At which point things get even stickier.
In the 2008 letter, Dulacki confirms that a threat against Ritter was reported to the DPD in the 2006 time frame, and mentions contact with three department members: Lieutenant Ron Saunier, Lieutenant Kelly Quinones and Commander Deborah Dilley. She also notes that while initial contact was made by Assistant District Attorney Chuck Lepley, the main conversations involved Dilley and Villafuerte, then working for Ritter's gubernatorial campaign.
No paperwork was generated by these communications, Dulacki continues, because Villafuerte decided not to pursue criminal charges against the person who'd allegedly made "veiled threats" against Ritter -- a man described by the Post as a Romanian.
So where does that leave us? In a mess.
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On the plus side, the latest letters establish that the Denver Police Department was indeed told about a threat against Ritter and provides names of multiple people presumably capable of confirming it. That means the pro-Villafuerte forces didn't simply make up this incident out of whole cloth.
However, the threat doesn't appear to have been very worrisome if Villafuerte chose to more or less shrug it off. That doesn't jibe with earlier testimony by Lepley, who talked about photographs of the Romanian and extra security assigned to Ritter. And Ritter's suggestion during a recent appearance with KOA's Mike Rosen that the threat was "very serious" gets little support.
In the end, the letters probably give Villafuerte supporters -- and there are still plenty of those out there -- a modest boost. But is it enough? Not for Dick Wadhams, who gave no indication of being satisfied by the DPD notes during an appearance on KHOW this morning.
As the controversy continues to drag out, the chances of Villafuerte withdrawing her name increase. A few weeks ago, I would have bet on her landing the U.S. Attorney gig despite all the bad mojo surrounding her. Now, I'm keeping my money in my pocket.