New Beth McCann Attack as Inaccurate as Name of Its Source: Westworld

While some of this state's Republicans have been dropping out of their party, it hasn't been easy to be a registered Democrat in the days leaving up to the June 28 primary, either. The race to replace term-limited Mitch Morrissey as Denver District Attorney has become increasingly ugly, with endless e-mail pleas, robocalls and nasty mailers.

Many of the attacks are coming from Citizens for a Strong & Fair People's Advocate, a SuperPAC pushing Michael Carrigan's candidacy, whose funders include some of Denver's big legal names — Frank Azar put in $50,000, Michael Sawaya $5,000 and Norm Brownstein $1,000, as originally reported by the Colorado Independent. While a mailer earlier this month made it clear that the PAC was supporting Carrigan, an attorney and current University of Colorado Boulder regent, its most recent mailing is simply an attack on Beth McCann, former prosecutor, onetime Denver Manager of Safety and current legislator.

The mailer — headlined "We Trusted Beth McCann to Keep Us Safe. She Failed." — quotes a Denver Post story from 1993, after the so-called Summer of Violence, on how McCann helped free up money to fund impact units that could focus on those crimes — units that most often arrested minorities. But then there are two quotes from "" that make it look like McCann allowed a rogue agent into the police academy.

In fact, McCann was just a bit player — and not a bad actor at all — in "Beat Cop," a July 19, 1995, Westword cover story by Robin Chotzinoff about Alex Woods, a cop who wound up in court on a domestic-violence beef.

McCann, Denver's Manager of Safety at the time, had initially denied Woods's application to the police academy.

"It was a maturity thing, not a violence thing," she told Chotzinoff about Woods, the son of a cop who had been accused of impersonating an officer during a brawl at Mile High Stadium — though those charges were never proved  She later approved his application — long before he was accused of beating his girlfriend.

The story is so old it isn't easy to find, even in Westword's archives — but a Google search brings it up, and also makes it clear how inaccurately the "westworld" mailer characterizes that case. (It's so inaccurate, in fact, that it rated "disgrace of the week" on CPT12's Colorado Inside Out last Friday.)

Who's been keeping that clipping file on McCann for over twenty years?

Azar declined to discuss the PAC's work, telling Michael Roberts only that he made the donation to honor Carrigan's father. McCann didn't want to discuss specific campaign charges, while Carrigan sees complaints about attacks against her as hypocritical.

By the way: Attorney Kenneth Boyd, a current member of the Denver DA's office, is also running as a Democrat in the primary. The winner of tomorrow's race will face off in November against Helen Morgan, another prosecutor in that office, who's running as an independent.

Let's hope that half of the race isn't as ugly.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun