DENVER — The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has launched an inquiry into whether a federal database was illegally used for details in a Rep. Bob Beauprez television ad against gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, officials confirmed Saturday.
Ritter campaign spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said Ritter has turned over a complete list of 152 cases to determine if one person accessed other cases on the list.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Lance Clem said they started the investigation after Ritter’s attorney sent a letter to state officials Friday.
“There are a number of potential statute violations,” Clem said.
Dreyer said questions were raised after Beauprez, a Republican, released details about one of the cases that involved crime records.
“We tried to verify that information through public records and we could not,” Dreyer said.
Beauprez campaign manager John Marshall said Ritter’s campaign was trying to distract voters from the ad’s message that Ritter, a Democrat and former Denver district attorney, offered a plea bargain to a man later accused of sexual assault.
The ad in question mentions a Carlos Estrada Medina who was arrested in Denver on suspicion of heroin trafficking. The ad says Medina avoided deportation and was later arrested in California on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor.
Television reporters found that the person arrested in Colorado was Walter Noel Romo and had a different birth date than Medina, said Thomas M. Rogers III, a lawyer for Ritter’s campaign.
When questioned about the man’s identity, the Beauprez campaign said that Romo and Medina were the same man because federal criminal databases indicated the two men had the same FBI numbers.
Information from federal databases such as the National Crime Information Center, is restricted to law-enforcement officials.
Marshall said Friday that he does not have access to the database. He said someone tipped the Beauprez campaign to the arrests in Colorado and California. He said “more than one” source confirmed the information.