Political Controversy Over Colorado U.S. Attorney Selection

President Obama, upon the recommendation of Colorado's two U.S. Senators and others, has nominated former Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Villafuerte for Colorado U.S. Attorney.

Republicans are having a hissy-fit. The brouhaha is over the criminal case of former ICE agent Cory Voorhis. Voorhis was acquitted of misdemeanor charges that he improperly accessed the restricted NCIC database and passed information contained in it to Gov. Bill Ritter's then opponent for Governor, Bob Beauprez, who used it in an ad to attack Ritter as being soft on undocumented residents while District Attorney.

Voorhis' didn't deny accessing the database or passing the information on to the Beauprez campaign. His defense was that he did nothing wrong by doing so and that the charges were politically motivated. [More...]

Villafuerte, who was on a leave of absence from the DA's office and working for the Ritter campaign at the time the Beauprez ad came out, concluded from her search of publicly available databases, that the identity and immigration status of the defendant portrayed in the attack ad could only have come from the restricted NCIC database.

Without any evidence Villafuerte's account is inaccurate, and intent on making Voorhis a hero because of his allegiance to their cause (even though he did pass restricted information on to a political candidate), Republicans are now fighting to keep Villafuerte from being confirmed. Absent any evidence of wrongdoing, they are reduced to complaining she didn't answer questions about her actions to the media.

Villafuerte has now provided this detailed letter of her actions to Senators Udall and Bennett, who have tendered it to the Judiciary Committee.

My view: The complaints against Villafuerte are unfounded and the product of the radical right anti-immigration faction. Cory Voorhis is no hero. His actions may not have been criminal, but they were wrong. Federal criminal agents should not access restricted databases and pass their findings onto political campaigns.

As I wrote here, Villafuerte is qualified, principled and deserving of the job. The Republican attempt to stall her nomination should be seen for what it is, political maneuvering and a misguided attempt at payback.

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    I am surprised Voorhis was acquitted. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 11:58:41 AM EST
    I remember a Monday court holiday years ago on which a mandatory meeting included an entire morning on the subject of unauthorized access to databases, including NCIC, and criminal penalties attached to such access.

    OMG... (none / 0) (#2)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 12:20:09 PM EST
    ...the former Denver DA was giving plea bargins to teh "illegals"!111! Our fragile state can't have that!!111!

    The rightwingers just like prattling on and on about the whole Ag. tresspassing thing.  Like they need an excuse to get their shorts in a bind.

    The Denver Post (none / 0) (#3)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 04:10:29 PM EST
    You state it well Jeralyn. What has been especially curious here, tho, is the heavy push and provocative articles in the Denver Post. Said articles, as well as a top-line editorial a few weeks back, go directly after Villafuerte in a "why-didn't-you-this, why-didn't-you-that wah-wah-wah" style. Clearly, the Post has had its own "agenda" in whipping up what can only be characterized as an artificial furor about info that the FBI earlier found uninteresting with regard to the nominee.  Perhaps, this really is a fight between the Denver Post (aka publisher Singleton) and Governor Ritter with the Villafuerte rhubarb the red-herring. Ala inside beltway is Post publisher Singleton's single focus on union-busting and related matters that he may be trying to shove at Ritter. Earlier front-page editorial treatment, etc., do demonstrate a very tense relationship between the publisher and the Governor.  Stranger things have happened in the Rocky Mountain (News) context...and, the Post's tangent about Villafuerte certainly speaks loudly to Ritter.

    Singleton... (none / 0) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 05:53:46 PM EST
    ...brought Rosen and Harsanyi on board from the News.  That speaks to a wider focus on the whole spectrum of "commonsense conservatism" on his part, IMO.  The Union deal is just another means to the end of bashing the "liberal" that Ritter represents.  

    i believe his actions were criminal (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 09:06:21 PM EST
    Federal criminal agents should not access restricted databases and pass their findings onto political campaigns.

    as one of the above, if i were to use my position, to access data bases not available to the general public, and transmit that information to parties without a "need to know", my actions would constitute a criminal event.

    why would similar actions, by an ICE agent, not be treated the same?

    perhaps, this explains why mr. voorhis is a "former" ICE agent.

    He was acquitted. (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 01:26:12 AM EST
    so, jury nullifcation??? (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 01:57:38 PM EST
    If he admitted to doing it and a jury did not convict him, then either the jury nullified the law or the charges were politically motivated.

    the jury didn't find he (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 02:42:11 AM EST
    had the necessary intent for conviction. Guilt requires both the commission of the act and the specified unlawful intent.

    intent? (none / 0) (#9)
    by diogenes on Tue Nov 24, 2009 at 07:57:12 PM EST
    "Each charges him with a violation of 18 USC Section 1030(a)(2)(B) by using an ICE computer to access and retrieve data, specifically, the criminal histories of various individuals, from the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database while acting outside his official capacity as an ICE agent. In all, the Government alleges Voorhis obtained data on 7 individuals, and that he sought the information in order to provide it to a candidate for political office, which is a prohibited use of the NCIC system."

    So he convinced the jury that he looked this stuff up as part of his job duties and did not intend some illicit use?  What job duties involved listing plea deals and handing them to a political candidate?  This case looks pretty open and shut to me.