DUI flap ends state re-election bid

The news that Rep. Laura Bradford used her position to get out of a DUI ticket in Denver in January went global.

At the time, few people believed the Collbran Republican when she said it wasn’t true.

Bradford’s troubles started when she left a Denver bar near the state Capitol Building, a place that weekly hosts a get-together of lawmakers, lobbyists and press covering the legislative session.

Bradford was pulled over by a Denver police officer on a suspected DUI call, but the officer wasn’t sure how to deal with a driver who had Colorado House license plates on her car.

He called in a supervisor, who determined that department policy barred them from detaining Bradford long enough to determine what her blood-alcohol content was.

That’s because the Colorado Constitution, like most states and the U.S. Constitution, provides for a “legislative privilege.” Under it, lawmakers cannot be arrested if they are going to or returning from an official legislative function.

It didn’t matter to the Denver police officers that Bradford repeatedly asked them to check her BAC level, or at the very least, give her a breathalyzer test.

The story went international after that same supervisor told a Denver television station that Bradford had asked for the privilege.

Within a few days, the department found out the supervisor had lied.

It later publicly apologized to Bradford, but by then the damage had already been done.

House GOP leaders, led by House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, removed Bradford as chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee and convened an ethics committee to look into the matter.

That angered Bradford, who threatened to leave the party. For a week, lawmakers didn’t know if the GOP would be able to retain its narrow 33-32 vote majority over Democrats.

It should have all ended on Feb. 10, the day the ethics committee determined no crime or ethics violation had occurred.

It didn’t.

That’s because Bradford, feeling pressure in her home district about her threat to leave the party, went on local television and said she never actually threatened to do that.

She said it was something the media had inferred even though there were numerous recordings of her saying so.

As a result, Bradford ended her re-election bid, leaving now Rep.-elect Jared Wright to win the seat.

Bradford has long since removed those House license plates.

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