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‘Politicizing public safety makes no one safer’

In the race for attorney general, voters deserve an honest conversation about public safety. A recent opinion piece by the Republican Chair Kristi Burton Brown strayed far from that standard. In fact, it peddled fabrications ranging from misrepresentations to flat-out lies. So let’s get the record straight.

Crime is up nationally, in red, blue and purple states. Politicizing public safety makes no one safer. Democrats have recently passed gun safety reforms, addressed significant addiction and behavioral health issues, and increased financial support for victims.

However, Brown tries to single out SB19-143 in blaming Democrats, even though the bill passed with significant bipartisan support. That includes “yes” votes from the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, a Republican former sheriff, and the Republican senator representing Durango and the entirety of Southern Colorado. But Brown only wants you to blame Democrats and overlook Republicans who supported the same legislation. (SB19-143 prompted marginally earlier parole release of low-risk, nonviolent offenders.)

Brown also attacks Weiser as being on “the wrong side of fentanyl law.” In reality, Weiser successfully pushed for recent legislation giving new tools to keep fentanyl out of our communities and go after drug traffickers. And Weiser has been a leader in the opioid crisis. Moreover, Weiser is on record calling on the federal government to step up its game to prevent fentanyl from coming over our borders.

Brown misrepresents a several-second video clip that she claims shows Weiser saying he wants no consequences for automobile theft. Wrong. That clip actually shows Weiser answering a question about suspects up for bail. That means people accused of a crime and not yet convicted of anything. Weiser has said publicly that everyone who commits car theft should be held accountable and should spend time in jail, and that we need a fairer bail system that treats rich and poor equally.

Brown’s baseless attacks and falsehoods are playing fast and loose with the truth because the Republicans want to win the attorney general seat, not because of Weiser’s actual record. The truth is that Weiser is a strong attorney general who stands up for public safety, responsible reforms and gun safety. Here’s just some of what he’s done in his first term in office.

Weiser sued the federal government when it illegally withheld critical public safety funds from Colorado sheriff and police agencies, including for Fort Lewis College. And Weiser won that lawsuit, getting those dollars to our peace officers.

Weiser pushed legislation making it easier for police recruits to receive training and serve in rural law enforcement offices. And, he successfully led the charge for millions in new funding to recruit and retain good law enforcement officers and provide expanded mental health services to better support those who wear the badge in our communities.

Weiser also championed critical gun safety legislation at the Capitol – including a law allowing family members to petition to have someone’s firearms removed if they pose an imminent and deadly threat to themselves or others. Weiser went to court to successfully defend Colorado’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines, and deadly ammunition tools routinely used in mass shootings.

Finally, Weiser has led major organized crime prosecutions, including partnering with federal and local law enforcement agencies to dismantle international drug trafficking, human trafficking and auto-theft rings.

I understand that it’s an election year. But let’s have an honest debate and not try to mislead voters through distortions, misrepresentations and falsehoods. Colorado voters deserve better, and they deserve an attorney general like Phil Weiser in office.

Morgan Carroll is chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, past president of the Colorado Senate and an attorney.