One of the Denver Post’s Karen “The Shiv” Crummy’s greatest hits, there’s no question about it. Three years after the October spectacle of “BeauprezGate” put an end to any hope that Bob Beauprez had of becoming Governor–which, to be fair, was already long gone–Crummy’s full frontal assault on Stephanie Villafuerte after her nomination for U.S. Attorney rings of gleeful payback from those last desperate days of the 2006 Beauprez for Governor campaign. And like we said yesterday, after the federal agent alleged to have illegally leaked the criminal database information to the Beauprez campaign was acquitted, every attempt to turn this right back on Bill Ritter and friends should have been fully expected.
But the fact remains, the FBI investigated Villafuerte and didn’t find a problem with her involvement–Crummy is essentially reopening their closed case to wonder aloud why the FBI “didn’t ask” about seeming inconsistencies. And one known hack reporter’s second-guessing the FBI does not appear to be enough, as she unhappily updates today:
President Barack Obama on Friday stood behind Stephanie Villafuerte, his nominee for Colorado U.S. attorney, while state Republicans called for her to either withdraw her nomination or answer questions about whether she may have acted inappropriately during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
Villafuerte, currently Gov. Bill Ritter’s deputy chief of staff, has refused to explain what types of conversations she had with representatives from the Denver district attorney’s office in the days before and after a restricted federal database was accessed, perhaps for political purposes…
The White House on Friday remained steadfast in backing Villafuerte.
“The president strongly supports Stephanie Villafuerte and thinks she will make a great United States attorney for the people of Colorado,” said White House spokesman Adam Abrams.
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who recommended Villafuerte for the position, and Sen. Michael Bennet, who approved of her nomination, also reiterated their support for her.
Bennet, through his spokesman Michael Amodeo, said he has “no plans” to ask Villafuerte any questions about the matter.
Udall had a “frank conversation” with Villafuerte about the issue before recommending her for the U.S. attorney position and “came away confident that Stephanie did not engage in any improper conduct,” said his spokeswoman, Tara Trujillo.
Now keep this in mind: if there’s one thing the Obama administration has shown so far, it’s that they’re not afraid to throw people under the wheels if their vetting-by-media goes badly. From Tom Daschle to Van Jones, the bodies of the scandal-prone have piled up in a way that certainly never happened in the Bush administration. If Villafuerte’s involvement with this three year old story was considered a problem, we’d know it from the Obama administration going tepid in response: that’s not what we just read.
The fact is, Crummy’s hit piece is perilous for both sides, and that’s why we tend to think this morning it may go away without too much ado. It’s well-established that more than one person had accessed the federal criminal database in question, and that information made its way back to Ritter’s campaign as Beauprez’s Hail Mary “agricultural trespass” ads hit the air. It’s the only way Ritter could have known that Beauprez’s campaign had done it first.
But this story descends into the mud pretty quickly, as we’ve seen with the allegations of coordination between Beauprez’s campaign and the 527 Trailhead Group for which the statute of limitations had long expired, the acquittal of the federal agent who assisted them, and Ritter’s campaign, yeah sure, maybe calling in their own favors too as an attempt to extract themselves from the last desperate round of mudslinging before basically certain victory. The substance of the charge against Ritter was always weak–are you going to seriously do away with plea bargains? So we’re back to this database brouhaha, and there’s enough he-said to parry the she-said that a few Dick Wadhams press blusterings aside it just may not matter much.
Of course, given the glacial pace at which U.S. Attorneys get confirmed for Colorado, we’ll have lots of time to gum this one–the best thing to do for Villafuerte, if the goal is to actually get her confirmed, would probably be to get moving on it.