Stephanie Villafuerte's nomination as U.S. Attorney for Colorado hasn't gone smoothly. Opponents continue to suggest that she may have taken part in accessing a federal database for political reasons -- the very thing for which former ICE agent Cory Voorhis was canned. And the release of a letter to Senator Mark Udall in which she denies all wrongdoing hasn't satisfied critics -- especially when Denver Police were unable to back up her story of a threat against then-gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter that's mentioned in her account.
At this point, however, Villafuerte's supporters continue to back her -- among them Victoria Johnson, president of the Colorado Women's Bar Association, who's confused about why the controversy over incidents that took place in 2006 continues to rage.
"Maybe I'm missing the big problem here," Johnson says, "but it seems to me that there's a difference of opinion about what happened a few years ago in a phone call. And I don't understand why that's created such a furor."
In contrast, Johnson knows precisely why Villafuerte would make a first-rate U.S. Attorney.
"Throughout her career, she's been devoted to prosecuting crime," she says. "She understands the office, and she understands leadership -- and she's got the experience to be able to work with broader public issues.
"If you've ever heard her speak, you know that she's very eloquent and has a great presence -- and I think that's important for somebody in this position," she continues. "As much as you want a prosecutor to be in the trenches, prosecuting crimes, there's an element of policy-making at that level, and choosing what to focus on, and how to tell the public about it, is very important. I think [current U.S. Attorney] Troy Eid has done an excellent job of that. In my opinion, he's picked challenging issues -- and even though Stephanie Villafuerte has a different political background, I think she'll do the same.
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"She has a toughness about her, as well as the skills and the connections, to make the right decisions when it comes to public policy. But she also has strong morals, strong leadership ability and the strong crime background that will let her walk the talk."
Johnson sees the Denver Post as leading the anti-Villafuerte campaign. "Maybe they feel like they're not getting their questions answered," she says. "But nobody's thought this was worthy of any kind of prosecution." If red flags arose, the CWBA would consider withdrawing its endorsement, which was first offered in 2008, "but this hasn't risen to the level where we're taking any kind of action whatsoever."
Indeed, Johnson reiterates the CWBA's support of Villafuerte in a recent press release. Read it below:
COLORADO WOMEN'S BAR ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS STEPHANIE VILLAFUERTE AS U.S. ATTORNEY FOR COLORADO
DENVER -- Victoria Johnson, President of the Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA), reiterated the CWBA's strong support of Stephanie Villafuerte for the position of U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. Ms. Johnson said, "The mission of the CWBA is to promote the advancement of women in the legal profession and promoting the welfare of all women. Before providing our support to any individual seeking a public position, we carefully consider his or her qualifications, regardless of the individual's gender."
Based on the CWBA's review of Ms. Villafuerte's background and experience, Ms. Johnson stated, "We support Ms. Villafuerte because she is eminently qualified. In particular, Ms. Villafuerte has extensive experience prosecuting criminals and working with law enforcement. She has proven herself to be tough on crime and has a strong track record of advocating for victims of crime, including women and children."
The CWBA endorsed Ms. Villafuerte when the Colorado U.S. Attorney position became open. Ms. Johnson noted that "Colorado is fortunate to have many female attorneys, such as Ms. Villafuerte, who are extremely well qualified for this position. To date, however, not one qualified female has served as Colorado's U.S. Attorney. It's time to break this gender barrier, and our organization urges Senators Udall and Bennet to take the lead in confirming her in that role."