Ethically, what is there to investigate?

We were pleased to learn that the Denver District Attorney’s Office quickly came to the only sensible conclusion with respect to state Rep. Laura Bradford: There simply isn’t adequate evidence to prosecute her for allegedly possessing a firearm while intoxicated.

Now it’s time for the House Ethics Committee to drop its farcical investigation into Bradford’s actions on the night of Jan. 25. The only conceivable ethics violation Bradford might have committed during that Jan. 25 traffic stop has been soundly debunked by officials with the Denver Police Department.

Police officials originally said Bradford had invoked a constitutional legislative immunity provision to avoid taking a blood-alcohol test and facing potential charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. But they recanted that story a few days later. Instead, they said Bradford repeatedly asked to be treated like any other citizen, but she was released anyway.

Top brass in the Police Department deserve credit for presenting the truth once they realized a mistake had been made. However, since the question of Bradford misusing her legislative privilege has been emphatically removed by the police, we fail to see what the Ethics Committee now has to investigate.

Its request that Bradford provide information on who she was with and what was discussed that evening is a moot point, since she clearly didn’t attempt to use that meeting in an effort to avoid prosecution.

It’s true that Bradford acknowledged having three glasses of wine at a lengthy dinner meeting that night with former lawmakers and lobbyists. And certainly, driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Bradford has no more right to do that than anyone else. But she has maintained she wasn’t intoxicated. And because no blood-alcohol test was administered, no one can disprove her statement.

Even if she had been arrested and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, she wouldn’t have been the first lawmaker to do so. None of the others faced ethics investigations for their traffic crimes.

As for the now-defunct weapons charge, Bradford told the police officers about her loaded gun under her car seat, and about her concealed carry permit. She did nothing to try to hide it or to misuse her legislative position with respect to the gun.

Again, it’s hard to discern any violation of House ethics rules in those circumstances.

We hope Bradford will be very careful about driving after consuming alcohol as a result of this incident. But, at this point, the only potential legal sanctions she still faces based on the Jan. 25 event are for suspicion of an illegal lane change and careless driving. She has said she plans to fight both of those charges.

She shouldn’t have to defend herself from an unwarranted ethics investigation at the same time.


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