In Aspen, secretary of state candidate blasts Colorado for releasing voter rolls | AspenTimes.com

In Aspen, secretary of state candidate blasts Colorado for releasing voter rolls

A candidate seeking the Democratic nomination to run for secretary of state in 2018 lambasted incumbent Republican Wayne Williams for releasing Colorado voter-registration data to a commission appointed by President Donald Trump.

Speaking at the Pitkin County Democratic Party's annual dinner Wednesday at T Lazy 7 Ranch, Jena Griswold pounced on Williams for turning over the data this week to the Trump team.

"I'm running because I refuse to roll back our voting rights here in Colorado," the 32-year-old Louisville attorney said. "We're going to show the Trump administration how Colorado works, and how Colorado works is that we're going to keep our voter rights, and then we're going to get more people to participate."

On Tuesday, Williams released Colorado's voter registration roll to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a group enlisted by Trump on the president's contention that millions of Americans illegally voted in the November election.

Through Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State's Office, 5,567 Colorado residents had pulled their registrations since June 28, when Trump made the announcement. Nearly 3.4 million Colorado residents are active, registered voters, according to the office.

Laws vary from state to state on the level of voter registration data that is considered public record, said Julia Sunny, a spokeswoman for Williams. Williams, she said, is simply abiding by Colorado law by releasing the data.

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"He's complying with the commission and what is public under state law, as well," she said.

Regarding Griswold's comments, Sunny said: "If she doesn't like it, she can go to the Legislature and ask them to change the law."

Williams is not releasing voters' Social Security numbers nor their birth dates, she said. Birth years, party affiliation, voting history (when they voted, but not for whom or what they voted) and full names are being provided, she said.

Griswold, meanwhile, suggested the information "was requested in a possibly unlawful way."

The candidate also said she wants to expand the capabilities of voter registration to such venues as community colleges, while focusing on cyber security to ward off election hackers.

The former voting rights attorney for the Obama campaign vowed to stump all over the state during the coming months.

"I"m going to go out and talk about the office, because a lot of time folks don't remember that the secretary of state regulates our election, and that it's key to every single progressive issue we care about," she said.

Phillip Villard, another Democrat, also has filed paperwork to run for secretary of state. He did not attend the Pitkin Democrats' dinner.

Attorney general candidates sound off

Also attending the dinner were the four attorney general candidates so far seeking the Democrats' nomination to take on Republican Cynthia Coffman in the 2018 midterms.

Here's a breakdown of their messages, in alphabetical order by the candidates' last names.

Michael Dougherty

The assistant district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties pledged to set up satellite attorney general's offices throughout the state.

"I won't lead the state from sitting behind a desk in Denver, but rather I'll be out and my staff will be working in the communities over here on the Western Slope and all around Colorado," Dougherty said.

Dougherty also vowed to have his office committed to environmental and consumer protection and taking on predatory lenders. The current no-call list is a sham, he suggested.

"If you're like me, I get calls all the time and I feel like I'm on the please-call-me-with-another-scam-right-now list," he said, drawing chuckles from the crowd. "The problem is we laugh, but the elderly people and the immigrants in our community are being victimized by these scam artist all the time."

Brad Levin

Levin, a name partner with the Denver firm Levin|Sitcoff, billed himself as an attorney general who would stand up to big business and insurance companies. He touted his legal experience, as well.

"It's fighting against the insurance companies, it's protecting everybody's rights, it is running law firms," he said.

Insurance carriers are cutting corners by denying people care for opioid addictions and "for any benefits to which they are entitled," he said.

"We need a strong attorney general who knows how to take on these insurance companies and is able to protect the state," he said.

State Rep. Joe Salazar

A member of the Colorado House since 2013, the Thornton resident focused on his being a Colorado native.

"Does it make a difference if you were born here?" Salazar said. "Yes, it makes a difference. Because when you live here and you are born here, you know what is happening on the west side just as much as you know what's happening on the Western Slope. You know what's happening in east Aurora just as much as you know what's happening on the Eastern Plains."

He also said he would crack down on polluters and oil and gas companies, "and they know damn well that's exactly what I'm going to do. Because I'm not bought and I'm not bullied by them. And I say I'm going to stand up to law enforcement agencies because that's exactly what the attorney general should be doing, not just supporting law enforcement but correcting them when they are wrong, especially when it comes to civil forfeiture."

Phil Weiser

Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, spoke critically about the Trump administration and said Colorado can lead the way at the midterms by restoring his party's principles.

"Our democracy is at stake," said Weiser, once an official with the Obama administration. "It is very clear what's happening. It's an incredibly direct assault on our basic constitutional rights. We need an attorney general who is fighting for our civil rights and is able to represent those values."

He called out pharmaceutical companies for price fixing and raising the price of drugs, as well as Wells Fargo for "making fake bank accounts and charging people for it and firing the employees who whistle blow."

He delved into environmental politics, also.

"With respect to our land and water, if we don't protect our environment, our children are going to say 'What in the hell were you doing? How could you allow your country, our country, to be the only nation of the major 20 to not be fighting climate change?'" he said in reference to Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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