DENVER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter said Tuesday that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign after he acknowledged his staff was made aware of improper e-mails from Republican Rep. Mark Foley last fall because Republican leaders were too complacent about the problems facing one of their own.
His opponent in the November election, Republican congressman Bob Beauprez, said if there is evidence Republican leaders knew about Foley’s transgressions, they should resign, but he said he has not seen any evidence that suggests they knew.
“I can say without reservation that whoever is implicated in this — and they have not taken action when they should have and they’re burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the facts and endangering children as a result — they need to go. I have not seen hard evidence that he has done that,” Beauprez said.
Ritter said Hastert was in charge and should take responsibility for what happened because he knew there were problems.
“He sits at the top, and folks who knew about this should be held responsible,” Ritter said.
Hastert said he wouldn’t resign as speaker in the controversy over Foley’s salacious computer exchanges with former pages.
In a televised debate, the two men also clashed over illegal immigration, which has been the subject of an ad from Beauprez’s campaign. Beau-
prez said it was inexcusable for Ritter to allow illegal and legal immigrants to strike plea bargains and not be deported.
Ritter defended his record as Denver district attorney, saying he tried to make sure illegal immigrants spent time in jail and were turned over to the federal government. Ritter said Beauprez failed to deal with the issue and provide more money for federal enforcement as a Colorado congressman.
Beauprez unleashed a new attack on Tuesday, releasing records he said showed illegal immigrants were turned back on the streets. Ritter said one of those cases involved a woman who was released because she was getting married to a U.S. citizen and would no longer be considered an illegal immigrant. He said other cases cited by Beauprez involved extenuating circumstances not included in the records.