HH: Always a pleasure to talk to Congressman Bob Beauprez, who in fact, is in D.C. tonight. One of these days, our paths will actually cross in Colorado, Congressman.
BB: I look forward to that, Hugh.
HH: Well, it’s good to talk to you. I’m sad to be here on such a week, though.
BB: It’s an extremely difficult week for anybody with a connection to Colorado. We’ve got, certainly on all of our minds and in our hearts, the family of Emily Keyes. It’s a tragic situation. And all the memories of Columbine are very much on our minds, and it’s an extremely difficult time to go through. And just one thing we’ve got to do is remember that we’re in a strange world, there’s some tough people out there, some sick people, some evil people, and we’ve got to redouble our efforts to make sure that our families are safe.
HH: You know, Congressman, I couldn’t agree with you more, and I’m going to talk with Gino Geraci more, who was at the scene. And condolences from the country in. Congressman, you’ve got a lot of work on the plate in Congress tonight. I know you’re going to be there very late. But is it all going to get done?
BB: Well, we’re going to get done what we can get done. We are going to take up yet, before the night’s over, a port security bill. The conference report is just about done, ready to be filed, and we’ll pass that, and then recess until after the election, come back and button some things up. But we’ve got a lot of good done this week. I’m anxious to see whether or not the Senate, before they adjourn, can pass the border fence bill, which, you know, we’ve done about everything we can do in the House to try to send something over there that they can pass.
HH: I cannot imagine it not getting through with cloture as overwhelming as it was last night. But we will continue to watch that space, because 700 miles of fence, which did in fact come out of the House, and I know you were a vibrant and vigorous supporter of it, are absolutely necessary to persuade the American people that the Congress is serious about the problem before we move on to figure out what to do with those who are here illegally. One think I know we want to do with people who are here illegally, Congressman Beauprez, is send them home if they commit a crime. And evidently, your campaign has begun to discover some things about Bill Ritter, your opponent in the governor’s race, that he was not real keen on doing that.
BB: Well, it really boggles the mind, Hugh. But as we’ve discovered, systematically, his office, while he was Denver D.A., when they would get cases brought to them for violent felons…we’ve got drug dealers, assault, weapons violations. Instead of deporting these aliens, legal and illegal, what they would do is plea bargain them down to agricultural land trespassing. And why that one? Because it’s not a deportable offense. And they just put them right back out on the street. And it just staggers the imagination that somebody would do that, sworn to protect the safety of our neighborhoods and our families.
HH: You know, when I got word from your staff that you would be making this announcement today, I couldn’t believe it, because I know D.A.’s often do plea bargains. But you usually plead someone, for example, from armed robbery to something lesser than that in order…if it’s a first time offender. But you don’t plead felons to misdemeanor, and you don’t let them stay in the country if they’re deportable. How often did it happen, Bob Beauprez, on Bill Ritter’s watch?
BB: We know of almost 200.
BB: I think the count right now stands at 192, and we’re still doing an investigation.
HH: That’s an assembly line of plea bargains. And what was the offense he plea bargained them to?
BB: Agricultural land trespassing, in the city and county of Denver. If you know anything about Denver, there’s not a lot of ag land.
HH: But that’s not a lesser included. That doesn’t make any sense to me as a lawyer with, you know, a little bit of time at the Department of Justice. Normally, you’d plea people down to something that had some relations…so a weapons violation became agricultural land trespass?
BB: Assault, drug trafficking…the only part of it that is, I guess makes sense to, I assume Bill Ritter, is that it was one of the very few violations they could plea bargain them down to, that did not require deportation…get them out of the country.
HH: What, generally, is Bill Ritter’s position on illegal immigration?
BB: He’s pretty much…first, he started off saying that it was a federal problem. And then when our state legislature decided to go into special session, and the Democrats want him to take credit for it, he said well, I guess it is a good idea after all. And then, after they did what they did, he said well, we’ve done everything we can do. Let’s move on. And now, it becomes very apparent to me why he didn’t want to talk about the problem of illegal immigration. He admitted, or volunteered, a few weeks ago on another Denver radio show, that Denver was not a sanctuary city. Now everybody else in the nation knows that it was a sanctuary city, but under his term, I guess, he didn’t want to believe that it was.
HH: Bob joins me from Washington, D.C., and we were just talking about a press release put out by his office this evening. He’s running against a guy named Bill Ritter, who was the district attorney for Denver for a very long time. And as district attorney for Denver, Mr. Ritter plea bargained more than 190 suspected felons to a very obscure charge of trespass on agricultural land. They were aliens, illegal and legal. And as a result of that plea bargain, they were not deported. They weren’t tried. They were simply…they pled to a misdemeanor, agricultural…(laughing) I just don’t understand that at all, Bob Beauprez. But it is as though he had an assembly line there, a little office where ‘get out of deportation free’ cards were issued.
BB: You got it. You know, in one interview, he was asked about his plea bargain pattern, and whether or not he thought it was appropriate. And his reponse was look, we were very busy there. My job was to get them in one end, and get them out the other as fast as I could. I thought, what a bizarre answer. You’re not running a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. You’re supposed to be meting out justice. And then we stumbled across this…I just…it does stagger the imagination, especially when you see some of the horrible offenses that are committed out there, including what we saw this week, tragically, in Colorado. Providing for the public safety for people that are elected to do just exactly that, ought to be job one, not errors in judgment.
HH: Now Bob Beauprez, if you’ve got a list of 190 – plus felons who plea bargained down to agricultural lands trespass, and stayed in the country, obviously, they stayed in the country. Are you trying to figure out what happened next? Because there’s some other pregnant shoes that are going to fall there. People with weapons charges, people who are narcotics dealers, people who are charged with assault, they don’t turn over new leaves all that often.
BB: No, I think as we peel through these, one by one, my guess is, Hugh, tragically, we’re going to find a number of repeat offenders. And again, these are people who were aliens in the country. They had committed an offense, at least accused of it, that would require deportation. You’d think you’d want to get the bad apples out of the barrel, but not Bill Ritter.
HH: You’ve released this to the press, tonight. I know you’re talking about it for the first time on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Have you had any calls yet from the Denver Post or the Rocky Mountain News?
BB: I understand my office’s phone is ringing off the hook, and not only from them, but from very many other media outlets, understandably so.
HH: A national story, because it does go to the wall, it does go to the fencing, it does go to the idea that illegal immigration is not simply a labor issue, it’s also an issue of crime. Have any of the networks phoned in yet?
BB: Not that I know of, but then I’m in D.C., and not at my Denver office. But I did get word from the Denver office that we’ve kicked a hornet’s nest.
HH: Now Bob Beauprez, do you have any debates left with Bill Ritter before the election?
BB: Only sixteen.
BB: We’ve got a bunch of them.
HH: Well, I assume then at every one of those, you’re going to be asking for details, correct?
HH: Has he had a statement issued this afternoon yet?
BB: Not that I’m aware of. If he has, I haven’t seen it.
HH: Any plans to publish the lists? I know this gets a little bit dicey, because of some danger of misidentification. But if you’ve got 190 names of people who’ve plea bargained, I’d sure love to see the list, because I’ll bet you the blogosphere can go find these people, and find out what happened. But again, there is that danger of misidentification. I know you’re going to be worried about that.
BB: Well, we want to make sure that we don’t misidentify somebody and create another set of problems. But we are, right now, we are going through these one by one. And my guess is, Hugh, in fact, I’m quite certain, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story will be coming out.
HH: Now Congressman Beauprez, up until now, this has primarily been a campaign about taxes and transportation and illegal immigration, if I can judge from afar. But now it sounds like it’s going to be also about whether or not Bill Ritter is accountable for his tenure as D.A. Will…
BB: Well, I think that’s the right word. And whether or not he’s not only accountable, but whether or not he’s capable of exercising prudent judgment. And I think those are really at the core of what elections ought to be about, is somebody of the character, do they have the judgment that the electorate would like to be able to rely on, and will they be held accountable to the voters for the job that the voters have given them to do. And to me, this is very, very egregious for a D.A. to…you know, I know that plea bargains are done. But you don’t plea bargain serious criminal offenses to something that very intentionally, as you said, has nothing to do with the crime that they did. And it’s pretty clear it was done to make sure that you didn’t have to kick them out of the country.
HH: Now let me explain for the audience. Plea bargains are done, because efficiency is necessary. So if you’ve got a drunk driver, for example, you might plead him on a first offense to reckless endangerment, or to reckless driving. If you’ve got larceny, grand larceny, you might get it down to petty larceny, just to give someone a second chance. But you don’t take felons and charge them with agricultural trespass. That’s a made up…that’s bizarre, Bob Beauprez.
HH: Did anyone…
BB: Absolutely bizarre, and if there was one of these, you probably wouldn’t really even pay too much attention to it. But when you…when we started seeing this enormous pattern of aliens, legal and illegal, routinely being pled down to the same rather unusual offense, we felt what’s up with this. And then of course, we discover the reason why. It’s one of the few remaining crimes that does not require automatic deportation.
HH: That’s remarkable. Now last question. I know we’re running low on time, Congressman Beauprez. Is there a particular office in the D.A.’s office, answering to Bill Ritter that was making these decisions? Have you identified, was there actually sort of an immigrants rights activist nested in there somewhere?
BB: That’s not information that we have yet. But my guess is, we’re going to get a whole lot of information to start coming forward, now that we have kicked this can over.
HH: It’ll be fascinating to see if the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News lay down on this one, and continue to cover for Bill Ritter, or whether they pick up what will obviously be something of intense public interest. Congressman Beauprez, I look forward to talking to you again in a couple of weeks. I’ll be out when the absentees go out on the 9th. And I’m sure everyone’s working hard. Congratulations on a good session of Congress, and I’ll see you soon in Colorado.
End of interview.