DENVER — Confidential law enforcement information that Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez used in an attack ad against his opponent for governor came from a federal immigration agent, a person in government who was briefed on the matter said Friday.
Cory Voorhis, a registered Republican who lives in Colorado, provided the information, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the case is the subject of an FBI investigation.
Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately return calls.
Voorhis’ wife, Paula Voorhis, answered the door of their Morrison home and said he was not there. “My husband is a good and honest man,” she said, declining to comment further.
At issue is an ad criticizing Beauprez’s Democratic opponent, former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter, for giving a plea bargain to an illegal immigrant suspected of heroin trafficking. The man was later arrested in California on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has said the information came from the National Crime Information Center, a federal database available only to law enforcement officials.
Its use for any purpose other than law enforcement is a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.
Voorhis’ name and employer were first reported by Denver media late Thursday. CBI spokesman Lance Clem declined to comment.
Beauprez lashed out at Ritter on Friday, accusing him of launching a witch hunt and trying to wreck the career of “a good man who blew the whistle” on Ritter’s performance as a prosecutor.
Beauprez said he would not identify the source.
“Our source saw a terrible wrong that needed to be made right and blew the whistle,” Beauprez said during a news conference at his campaign headquarters. “Our source, in my opinion, performed a great act of courage.”
Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer scoffed at that contention.
“For him to claim that a lawbreaking law enforcement officer is somehow a hero is pathetic. The congressman essentially aided and abetted the commission of a crime, and he’s attempting to dodge and evade the truth,” Dreyer said.
Beauprez said that he did not know how the information was obtained, but that if it was done illegally, whoever did it should be held responsible.
Beauprez said he believed the informant was a whistleblower who performed a public service.
Roy Wood of the Center for Civic Ethics at the University of Denver said he doesn’t believe the informant qualifies as a whistleblower, because the suspect in the ad was arrested in 2001 and the informant is just now coming forward.
Wood said the agent could have taken his concerns to a judicial ethics board.
“I don’t think this is a case where he exhausted all options and the only person who would listen was the opposing candidate,” he said.