Truden issues concern state AG
August 19, 2005
Colorado’s attorney general on Friday echoed concerns raised by others about local District Attorney Colleen Truden, who is the subject of a recall effort.In an interview with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Attorney General John Suthers criticized Truden, a fellow Republican, for paying her husband to do computer work and for the turnover in her office during her first year on the job.”She clearly made a mistake in hiring her husband. … You just don’t do that in public office,” Suthers said.It doesn’t matter whether someone is qualified to do something; the problem is the appearance of impropriety, said Suthers, a former district attorney.”You have to be very careful about who you hire to do various things, because there are appearances,” he said.The departure of many of Truden’s staff also concerns Suthers.”Given the size of the office, the level of turnover that has occurred so far appears extraordinary to me,” he said. Truden was elected district attorney last year after incumbent Mac Myers was prohibited from running again because of term limits. Several attorneys have left since she took office, including one of the ones she hired, Tony Hershey, who joined other past employees in criticizing her management style.Suthers said so much staff loss makes it harder when a new district attorney takes over.”It’s important to transition cases smoothly and it’s important to retain sufficient former staff to make that happen,” Suthers said.Suthers spoke from the experience of a former district attorney. He served in that role in Colorado’s 4th Judicial District from 1988-92.However, he is not responsible in his current job for monitoring district attorney offices and doesn’t observe their day-to-day operations, he said. Occasionally, he said, district attorneys will call his office for assistance, like when criminal suspects have fled to other countries.Also, the governor can designate the attorney general as a special prosecutor if it appears a district attorney isn’t doing an adequate job on a specific case, but that happens only rarely, Suthers said.Suthers was in Glenwood Springs Friday to attend a meeting of the Colorado District Attorneys Council, which gathers in Glenwood Springs each August.Truden is the target of a recall campaign that also has focused on issues such as budget overruns. To force a recall election, organizers must give the secretary of state’s office 5,455 valid signatures by mid-September.