U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is declining to say if he will correct the congressional record after misidentifying a Bayfield family as his constituents during an April 2016 speech on the U.S. House floor.
The congressman, a Democrat running for governor of Colorado, also declined to explain how the error occurred or whether it should concern his constituents.
In his speech, Polis spoke in support of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which would grant work permits and postpone deportation for some immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Polis referred to Edin Ramos – who is facing deportation – and his family as “constituents of mine.” But, the family lives in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses La Plata County.
Polis, a Democrat, represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes 10 counties in north-central Colorado.
The Durango Herald published a story March 13 about Ramos’ situation, and at the time, asked Jessica Bralish, Polis’ spokeswoman, about the congressman referring to Ramos as his constituent.
She told the Herald: “Congressman Polis references Edin’s family, and he does have family members in the district,” she wrote. “It could have been clearer.”
The Herald contacted Polis again this week to ask if he had considered correcting the record.
“Although Mr. Ramos is not a resident of the 2nd Congressional District of Colorado, he has close family ties in Fort Collins,” Bralish wrote in an email to the Herald on Wednesday. “Assisting constituents, or their close family members, is standard practice.”
During his nearly six-minute speech, Polis advocated for a permanent solution for Ramos, who has since been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Mr. Edin Ramos of Colorado ... fled his home county to avoid persecution and extortion,” Polis said in his speech. “He’s a very successful business owner in my district. He and his wife employ 12 people, make investments in our local community, and we rely on them for jobs and the services they provide.”
Ramos has been living undocumented in Bayfield since 2003 after fleeing Honduras. He and his wife, Thalia, opened a medical facility cleaning business in 2006. In 2015, they opened a commercial laundry business.
Both businesses have always operated in Bayfield.
Thalia Ramos said in a previous interview that her parents live in Fort Collins, which is in Polis’ district, and they alerted him to their son-in-law’s situation.
The House Ethics Manual, created by the Committee on Ethics, which enforces a code of conduct for members of the House of Representatives, outlines general ethical standards for members of Congress.
It includes an overarching statement on the first page about appropriate behavior: “Members, officers and employees of the House should conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”
Nowhere in the 456-page document does it say House members can be held accountable for lying or making inaccurate statements on the record.
Bralish declined to answer several questions related to Polis’ comments on the House floor, including whether the congressman plans to correct the congressional record.
“The congressman is grateful that the family contacted him for assistance, and he is proud of his work in this matter as it is one of the most compelling immigration cases that he has encountered in all of his time in Congress,” she said in the email.
Shortly after the Herald contacted Polis’ spokeswoman for comment, Thalia Ramos sent an email to Herald saying she is concerned a news story about Polis falsely claiming her husband is a constituent “will only work to undermine all of our efforts on behalf of my husband and my family.”
The Herald had not previously reached out to Thalia Ramos for this story.
“I am afraid that if you keep pursuing this, it will hurt all of the work that Rep. Polis has done for our family and others, which will be devastating to all of us,” she said.
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, declined to comment Thursday.
Other Democrats in the race for governor include former state Sen. Mike Johnston; former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy; and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.
A survey released Tuesday by Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies found Polis leads by a razor-thin margin over Kennedy in the June 26 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Twenty-seven percent of voters surveyed said they would vote for Polis, while 23 percent picked Kennedy.