2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gazette Premium Content No charges against activist who voted in recall to point out flaws in Colorado law

The Attorney General's Office will not charge Jon Caldara for voting in the September recall election of Sen. John Morse, despite what investigators deemed extremely suspect behavior.

Caldara, a longtime Boulder resident and a Republican, used a new same-day registration law to register to vote in El Paso County and cast a ballot in the recall election. Caldara told the media that he was voting to prove a point: that the Democrats' new election law was flawed and allowed voters to move from district to district and vote in close elections with little recourse.

"It's not a big surprise. I wasn't worried about it," Caldara said of the decision. "This law was created to legalize voter mischief. It was created so that voters could be moved around into districts where their vote was most needed at the very last moment of the campaign. All I did was to make public what happens privately."

Christy Le Lait, who managed the campaign to keep Morse in office, said it's hard to see the point Caldara thinks he made.

"He proved that you can go to a lot of effort to register to vote fraudulently and get away with it," Le Lait said.

Le Lait filed a complaint against Caldara, alleging he had voted fraudulently because he didn't actually live in Morse's Senate district.

After several moths of investigation, an assistant attorney general found "criminal prosecution is not warranted or viable."

But the response was also a slap on the hand.

"It is imperative to note that the Office of the Attorney General does not condone Mr. Caldara's choreographed actions that were designed by him to create a record that he used" to support his claim that he was a resident of El Paso County before and during the election, wrote First Assistant Attorney General Robert Shapiro.

Caldara had a signed lease to rent a room in Mark Barker's house. Barker is a deputy district attorney in El Paso County and because of a potential conflict of interest, the case was forwarded to the Attorney General's Office.

In addition to the lease, Caldara changed his address with the state for his driver's license records.

Caldara returned to Denver for work the day after the election and a few weeks later stated publically that he would move back to Boulder in the wake of devastating floods that had impacted the town. He subsequently changed his address back to Boulder and registered to vote in Boulder County again.

"Various factors cause me to hesitate when examining the veracity of Mr. Caldara's intention of being an El Paso County resident," Shapiro wrote. He called the lease agreement "questionable."

Caldara said he didn't appreciate the snarky tone in the letter he received from Shapiro.

"Obviously the prosecutors are very frustrated that I abided by the law," he said. "Their frustration is obviously misplaced. It should go to the legislature and the governor to clean up this mess."

Republicans who opposed the same-day voter registration law have said during the 2014 legislative session they will bring bills to repeal all or part of it.

The election law didn't change requirements for residency, but eliminated a black-out period before elections when people could register to vote.

Caldara, like all voters, signed a document swearing that the address he provided while registering to vote was his legal residence and that he would forfeit all other addresses.

Caldara's legal defense was that he had every intent of making El Paso County his home, but had a change of plans after the flood.

The lease and address change supported that claim.

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Contact Megan Schrader

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader





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