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Ritter owes Colorado voters an explanation--and an apology

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Good riddance to bad governance. By bowing out of the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial race, one-term Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who had been steadily slipping in polls against Republican challenger Scott McInnis, made a humbling political move—a stark contrast to his witch hunt against former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Cory Voorhis in 2006. 

As Denver district attorney for 12 years, Ritter routinely allowed illegal immigrants charged with crimes to plead to lesser charges and so avoid deportation. But that’s not what he told The Denver Post in 2006, when he lamented that federal officials did not make enough of an effort to arrest illegal immigrant criminals. 

When Voorhis—who knew of at least one criminal Ritter’s exchange-a-crime policy had allowed to stay in the country and commit further crimes—read the piece, he contacted Ritter’s opponent for governor, then-Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez, in an effort to expose Ritter. 

When Beauprez used the information in campaign ads against Ritter, Ritter launched another campaign—against Voorhis. He demanded a criminal investigation into the matter—highly unusual and suspect in the case of “improper access to a federal database,” which would normally be handled administratively—and Voorhis, a decorated agent, was charged with a misdemeanor.

The Ritter crusade didn’t end there. Voorhis was fired and even though a jury acquitted him of the charges in 2008, he was never reinstated. To pay for legal representation, he was forced to mortgage his house. His children were taunted and his reputation was ruined. 

Perhaps now that he’s dropped out of the governor’s race, Ritter will have time to explain to the voters who elected him, why he was helping dangerous criminals stay in our country illegally—and why he was willing to ruin a man’s life to hide it.  

 

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Anath Hartmann

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