(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Much of the media coverage of the Colorado Attorney General's decision not to prosecute Jon Caldara, President of the libertarian/conservative Independence Institute, for voter fraud featured a quote from Caldara that the Attorney General's non-action proved his innocence.
For example, there's this memorable Caldara quote from The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels' story: "I told you what I did was legal," Caldara said Thursday, adding "neener-neener-neener."
Bartels and others reported that the AG's letter did not "condone" Caldara's stunt, but no journalist corrected Caldara's mistaken belief that AG letter is proof of his innocence.
While the letter did say there is "arguable ambiguity within some of the new legislation," and Caldara should not be brought to trial, it certainly did not say Caldara's actions were legal, and reporters should have said so categorically.
I asked Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, for his comments on whether the Colorado Attorney General's letter was proof of Caldara's innocence.
Toro: The AG’s office did not declare Caldara innocent. The prosecutor correctly noted the ethical obligations of a prosecutor when making a charging decision. These include an obligation not to file charges without sufficient evidence to support a conviction. Evidence that could raise reasonable doubt included signing a lease at an address in the district, changing his driver’s license to the Colorado Springs address, and actually staying at the address where he claimed to reside when he voted through Election Day. Caldara’s lawyering up and extensive preparation to raise reasonable doubt only proves that gaming the system is not as easy as he pretends. His attempt to prove that anyone in Colorado can show up anywhere on Election Day, claim to reside in a district, and legally vote ended up proving the opposite…"
The real reason not to charge is, in the prosecutor’s words, Caldara’s “choreographed actions that were designed by him to create a record that he used to support his stated intention that at least on September 7, 2013 through September 10, 2013 he was an El Paso County resident and thus was permitted to be a registered elector.” Caldara only proved that without elaborate “choreographed actions” and top-notch legal representation, someone who shows up on Election Day and falsely claims residence in a given district will be charged and convicted.