Top Ten Stories of 2012 #10: The Saga of Laura Bradford

Between now and New Year’s Eve, Colorado Pols is recapping the top ten stories in Colorado politics from the 2012 election year.

Late on a Wednesday evening in January, Denver police attempted to stop a vehicle not far from the state capitol with legislative license plates they had observed driving erratically. The vehicle didn’t stop immediately, but proceeded several blocks before coming to an awkward stop near a bar frequented by state legislators, lobbyists, journalists and staff called Prohibition.

From that moment, the career of Republican Rep. Laura Bradford of Collbran began to unravel. Early reports from the Denver Police Department–later retracted under less-than-forthcoming circumstances–indicated that Bradford may have evaded arrest for driving under the influence by invoking legislative immunity granted to lawmakers during the legislative session.

Rep. Bradford was immediately stripped of her committee chair, and effectively made persona non grata in her caucus by Speaker Frank McNulty until she was “cleared” by the Denver Police Department and a subsequent ethics committee inquiry of wrongdoing (at least wrongdoing pertaining to abuse of her position). Bradford, despite her initial contrition over the incident, felt that she was being unfairly treated by McNulty throughout the process, and even briefly threatened to defect to Democrats–a lethal prospect for the GOP’s one-seat House majority.

In the end, though many questions about the conduct of both Rep. Bradford and responding Denver police officers remain unanswered, she was cleared; but not before her erratic response to the situation had rendered her politically nonviable in the eyes of Republicans both in Denver and her district. In March, Bradford announced she would not seek re-election.

The story of Laura Bradford has an amusing epilogue: Bradford’s Republican successor in HD-54, Rep.-elect Jared Wright of Fruita, has already perhaps set a new standard for disgrace on the campaign trail that nonetheless did not prevent victory. Wright, exposed as a lazy and dishonest police officer who lived embarrassingly beyond his taxpayer-funded means and was begged by fellow Republicans to pull out of the race, may be about to make former Rep. Bradford’s brush with scandal and intra-party intrigue a pleasant memory by comparison.

On the upside, it might not be as big a deal now, in a Republican minority.

7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Serenitynow says:

    One would think that a Republican representative purports to believe in certain things like smaller government or social issues or whatever and that that is why she self-identifies as an R.

    But because she doesn’t like how McNulty handles her little scandal she was thinking about becoming a democrat and abandoning her Republican values? It makes no sense and tends to show her as a politician who is in the game for power and prestige rather than any set of ideals.  Her political value set is defined by whatever it takes to get the power and prestige of the political position she wants.

    In the words of the great Walter Sobchak: I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.  

  2. AristotleAristotle says:

    was that it proved what I had long suspected about Peak. They were totally silent on this, the biggest story in Colorado politics at that time, until she started talking about leaving. THAT finally prompted them to write a diary – one about how party defectors always end up with a demolished career. (Somehow, the example of Ben Nighthorse Campbell wasn’t included.)

    What it showed was that Peak is not an independent blog, but rather one that is employed as a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party. They weren’t going to say anything about Bradford as long as it would reflect poorly on the Party, but she was persona non grata as soon as it was clear that she was threatening to hurt it.

    Anyway, that’s obviously a minor thing, but I enjoyed confronting them on it and seeing them squirm.

  3. gertie97 says:

    She needed to inform him immediately, or no later than early the following morning, of what had happened.

    She didn’t, and trouble rained down on her.

    Her problem was the Republican base in the new HD54, which may have more tin foil per capita than anywhere else in the state. Bradford never was sufficiently conservative for them, so once she landed in a very public mess, there was nobody among the wingnuts willing to help her out. Her threat to switch parties sealed it.

    Wright was at the time employed as a cop, has the requisite pretty wife and precious little girl and spouted all the correct rhetoric of pro-life, small government, low taxes and, my favorite, personal responsibility. And he’s a guy.

    It wasn’t until several weeks after the nomination was signed, sealed and delivered that he was canned as a cop and the Sentinel dug up the bankruptcy.

    I’ll bet Bradford is up on the ranch in Collbran laughing her ass off.

  4. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    What can we expect from Wright, other than a guaranteed primary and single term of service?

  5. gertie97 says:

    Surely you jest. This is Mesa County we’re talking about. As long as Wright can get his ass out of bed and get to the Capitol on time, he’ll be okay. He’ll vote the party line and talk the rhetoric with the best of them. The wingnuts will be content. The oil and gas boys will love him.

    As for the few remaining moderates in the Mesa County GOP? They’re powerless, discouraged and fed up.

    So we have as our alleged Statehouse delegation Steve King, Ray Scott and Jared Wright. And the majority of the voters think that’s just okey-dokey.

  6. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    After the beating he took in the press, I would have thought him an easy mark for some GOPer with ambition and better financial management skills. How sad for Mesa County.

  7. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Voters should require more, but many don’t.

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