Bradford in hot water over cop stop
Rep. Laura Bradford temporarily was removed as chairwoman of a House committee Friday pending a legislative investigation into a “traffic citation” she received Wednesday, the Colorado House Republican leadership said.
The Collbran Republican, who is chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee, received a traffic ticket on suspicion of improper turning and an illegal lane change, Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson said.
Jackson said the officer who stopped Bradford at about 10 p.m. Wednesday could smell alcohol on her breath and gave her a roadside sobriety test.
The officer didn’t give the lawmaker a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol because that would have required police to detain her, which is against the law, he said. Jackson said the most police could do was issue Bradford a traffic citation for the moving violations, lock her car and send her on her way.
“You can’t prove DUI unless you can do blood (test) for alcohol or breath (test) on someone, and we were not able to do that,” Jackson said. “It was determined that she was a state legislator, and by state law, you’re not allowed to detain a state legislator going to and from the Capitol.”
The Colorado Constitution says legislators cannot be arrested except for reasons of treason or felony while going to or returning from the Legislature or a committee hearing.
But, according to the Legislature’s archived video and audio logs for that day, the House finished its floor work by 10:30 a.m. that morning, and Bradford’s committee met immediately afterward. It completed its work by noon, and Bradford served on no other committees that day.
Several other state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed surprise at the news when contacted Friday evening, saying they had not heard anything about it.
Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, said that while he knew nothing about it, he said House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, is normally quick to act in such situations.
House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said McNulty called him about his decision to suspend Bradford from her chairmanship, but offered few details about why.
“Frank called me earlier and told me he was going to suspend her for a traffic incident,” he said. “That’s all I know. It’s too early to tell what this means for the committee. This is something for her to deal with.”
Bradford’s vice chair, Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, was named chairwoman while the House investigates the matter, said Owen Loftus, majority communications director.
Repeated telephone calls from The Daily Sentinel to Bradford went unanswered Friday evening.
Bradford was first spotted by Denver police Wednesday night near the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Downing Street, which is located about 14 blocks east of the State Capitol Building.
“When she was stopped, (the officer) could smell alcohol on her breath. She admitted she had been drinking,” Jackson said. “We subsequently did a roadside sobriety check, which supervisors were called and observed, and because she was driving a vehicle with legislative plates on it and based on the state law, she was ticketed for the road violation, put into a cab and sent to her destination.”
Jackson said the officers had no idea when the Legislature may or may not have completed its work that day, or whether Bradford was doing some other legislative work.
“If she says she’s leaving the Capitol, leaving a legislative event, we have to take her word for it,” he said. “How would you prove anything? Think about it, how would you prove any of that? The law is the law, and we are bound by it.”
Staff writers Gary Harmon and Emily Anderson contributed to this story.