DENVER A legislative ethics committee unanimously dismissed a complaint Friday against a Republican state lawmaker, saying there is no evidence she used her position to influence Denver police during a traffic stop.
Rep. Laura Bradford of Collbran was stopped Jan. 25 when police suspected her of driving drunk. She was not cited for driving under the influence, raising questions about whether she received preferential treatment. Bradford has maintained that she told police to treat her like a regular citizen.
Police said officers smelled alcohol when they stopped her, but believed they could not detain her on suspicion of DUI and have her take a breathalyzer or a blood test because doing so wouldve violated a little-known state constitutional provision.
The provision, known as legislative privilege, exists in most states, and its designed to protect lawmakers while in session so they dont miss work because of an overzealous governor or law enforcement. The provision has roots in the days when English monarchs feuded with lawmakers.
Police later publicly apologized to Bradford, saying they mischaracterized the traffic stop and gave the false impression she used a state constitutional clause.
Denver police department clearly reiterated several times that Bradford at no time attempted to invoke legislative privilege, said Republican Rep. Tom Massey, chair of the House ethics panel.
The ethics complaint has exposed a rocky relationship between Bradford and Republicans who supported the review. She threatened to leave the party, which would have compromised the GOPs one-vote advantage in the chamber.
Bradford said Friday she would remain a Republican, but acknowledged the rest of the session wouldnt be easy.
Its always going to be problematic when you have a one-seat majority, Bradford said. At any given time, any one of those people can be the most powerful person in the House.
After the allegations against Bradford surfaced, Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty removed her as chair and member of the Local Government Committee. McNulty said Bradford would return to chairing the committee.
She continues to be a valuable member of our caucus, he said.
Bradfords attorney, Richard Bryans Jr., told lawmakers in a letter this week that there was no proof to show Bradford was driving drunk. He said that the suspicions against his client are not synonymous with guilt.
In this case, the presumption of innocence has been denied Ms. Bradford via a number of reckless descriptions and media reports which have conveyed a false impression of presumptive guilt, Bryans said.
Police cited her with making an illegal lane change and improper turn and then sent her away in a cab. She is contesting the citations and is due in court March 8.
Police had also said she had a gun in her car when she was stopped information Bradford volunteered to officers and that she could face charges for having a firearm if she was intoxicated. But prosecutors said last week they would not press charges because they didnt have enough proof.
Democratic Rep. Claire Levy, who also served on the ethics panel, agreed with lawmakers on the committee that there was no evidence to continue reviewing whether Bradford was driving drunk or invoked legislative privilege. She said perhaps Bradford was judged too quickly.
Events got set in motion here, maybe prematurely, she said.