La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle is accusing a local Democratic Party activist of offering her a bribe to
Riddle this week provided The Durango Herald with a copy of an e-mail she received March 2 from Nancy Greif.
In the letter, Greif writes that she contributed to Riddle's campaign and worked hard" to get her elected but calls
her term in office an unmitigated disaster" and asks for her to step down.
If it's the money, let's figure out how much money you would make between now and the end of your term and I'm
positive I could raise that amount and give it to you in exchange for your immediate resignation," the e-mail says.
Commissioners make $72,500 a year; Riddle's term ends this year.
Greif did not return a call seeking comment. Her husband, Vernon Greif, said, I don't believe that Nancy is going to
speak to anybody about that."
The Greifs have sued the county over the commissioners' approval of the Little Fishes" gravel project last year. The
Greifs live directly across the Animas River from the project, located south of Weaselskin Bridge on La Posta Road
(County Road 213).
Riddle joined Commissioner Kellie Hotter, a Republican, in voting in favor of the project. Commissioner Wally White, a
Democrat, voted against it.
Riddle, who formerly headed the local Democratic Party, disaffiliated with the party in August 2009 and has sued to
have her name on the November ballot after inadvertently missing the deadline to change her status.
Riddle, who received Greif's e-mail at a Hotmail account listed on her campaign Web site, said she believes Greif's
offer of money for her resignation
constitutes a bribe.
I just feel there's a responsibility here to let the public know what's going on," she said.
She said she turned the e-mail over to District Attorney Todd Risberg.
Risberg, reached on Wednesday, declined to comment about the e-mail or any possible investigation.
I don't think that would be appropriate," he said.
La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard said he had seen a copy of the e-mail.
The Sheriff's Office was going to investigate, but then it was determined that the District Attorney's Office had
begun an investigation on it, so we were just kind of sitting back and seeing what happens with the situation," he
He continued, We're aware of it and concerned about it, but at this point and time it's in the hands of the district
Schirard said he sought to have the Colorado Bureau of Investigations look into the matter, but that agency declined to
take the case. He said he did not know the reason.
In the e-mail, Greif wrote, People would pay good money to have you stop damaging the economic base of this county,which is tourism and second home economic drivers."
Jean Walter, current Democratic Party chairwoman, said Greif was not speaking for the party in her e-mail.
That has nothing to do with any Democratic leadership," she said. That's something that Nancy Greif decided to
Bill Zimsky, who is defending Riddle pro bono in her election-law lawsuit, called Greif's e-mail jaw-dropping" and
Nancy Greif is just black-hearted," he said. This is a woman full of hate."
He pointed to the Colorado statute that addresses bribery.
It states that a person has committed the crime of bribery if he offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary
benefit upon a public servant with the intent to influence the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of
discretion, or other action in his official capacity."
Greif's e-mail discusses Riddle's possible replacement.
I don't like the fact that whoever the Democratic insiders appoint will have an advantage in the next election but I
want fresh eyes on the Board bad enough to say, 'So be it,'" it reads.
Although Riddle's replacement would actually be named by Gov. Bill Ritter because she is unaffiliated, Zimsky said this
speaks to Greif's desire to influence future board action through Riddle's resignation.
Late last month, Greif, a lawyer, was among 20 people who signed a letter to the editor published in the Herald calling
for Riddle's resignation.
Because Riddle missed a filing deadline to appear on the ballot as an 'unaffiliated' candidate she is making all of us
pay. At the same time she is sitting on the board spouting words about 'fiscal responsibility' and 'tight budget
times,'" it reads.
George Richardson, who also signed the letter, said he had never been asked for money for Riddle's resignation nor
would he pay for it.
I would never go that far," he said.
While he said Greif was speaking solely for herself in the e-mail, he defended her in general.
I have huge respect for Nancy," he said.
Denise Bohemier, who also signed the letter, said she wasn't aware of Greif's e-mail but felt that Riddle appeared to
be making something out of nothing.
My guess is that Nancy was just tongue in cheek," she said.
Riddle was elected in November 2006 after defeating a Republican incumbent, Sheryl Ayers. Her previous job was as the
education program manager for Planned Parenthood.
Greif's e-mail portrays Riddle as having fallen under the sway of Hotter, whose campaign sign Riddle put in her yard in
As soon as you were elected Kellie started working on you. I saw it. Lots of people saw it. I guess you didn't know
you were being manipulated for political purposes," it reads.
Hotter dismissed this as absolutely ridiculous."
Anyone looking at the record will see there are times that we agree and times that we disagree," she said.
She said bipartisanship is something that should be applauded and called Greif's offer of money blatant bribery."
I think she should be held accountable for that statement," she said.
Riddle's vote last year against a resolution calling for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a practice used in
the production of natural gas, was especially unpopular with the Democratic Party faithful and came shortly before she
broke with the party.
Riddle this week said Greif's e-mail was a symptom of why I left partisan politics."
This is the kind of stuff going on here," she said.
If Riddle does not prevail in her lawsuit, her only path to re-election is as a write-in candidate.
Four Democrats, a Republican and an unaffiliated candidate have come forward to challenge her in November.