January 31, 2008

Revelations in Voorhis Case Suggest Possible Double Standard at Work

While immigration agent Cory Voorhis awaits trial for accessing a federal criminal database for campaign-related purposes, the Denver Post reports that Gov. Bill Ritter's 2006 campaign may have encouraged the exact same activity:
Denver DA officials have previously acknowledged that they too accessed the National Crime Information Computer to check on [Denver heroin dealer Carlos] Estrada-Medina, saying it was done in response to media calls after a Beauprez campaign ad featuring Estrada-Medina began running on Oct. 10, 2006. But the records of cellphone calls and call logs released by the DA's office in response to a request from The Denver Post show no such media deluge. Instead, they indicate that the DA office's work on Estrada-Medina also had its roots in a campaign.

A call log maintained by DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough shows that on Oct. 10, "Steph" called and asked about "Carlos Estrada-Medina." Dick Reeve, a lawyer for the DA's office, confirmed that Steph was Stephanie Villafuerte, former chief deputy DA who was working for the Ritter campaign..

Reeve, the attorney for [Chuck] Lepley, [Lynn] Kimbrough and other DA employees, said that they were never asked by Villafuerte or anyone else at the Ritter campaign to access the NCIC, but when asked if information that the DA's office retrieved from the NCIC was provided to Villafuerte or others from the Ritter campaign, Reeve declined comment.

"That's a specific question that is best left to the testimony on Friday," Reeve said.

Villafuerte did not respond to a phone message left on her cellphone Wednesday. Ritter's spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the campaign never asked anyone at the DA's office to access the NCIC and that everyone there would have been unaware that the DA's office had accessed the NCIC.

Until the investigation digs deeper, there will be no convincing answer to explain away what appears to be a clear double standard:
"The DA's office ran an NCIC check and called a campaign, and they say that doesn't break the law. So, why did Cory break the law for doing the same thing?" said Mike Riebau, a former immigration special agent who heads up a legal defense fund for Voorhis.
Ritter has to be wishing for this story to disappear. Just as long as it doesn't mean putting Voorhis away while letting his friends off the hook.

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