Colorado's State Rep. Laura Bradford (R-Colbran), has been suspended from her position as chair of the House Local Government Committee after a questionable traffic citation on the evening of January 25.
Bradford was pulled over by Denver Police around 10 p.m. on the 25th for erratic driving. A police report indicates Bradford admitted to drinking and smelled like alcohol, but officers released her with a minor traffic citation and allowed her to ride home in a taxi, reports KRDO.
Denver Police maintain they weren't legally able to arrest Bradford due to an antiquated clause in the Colorado Constitution. Article V, section 16 exempts lawmakers from arrest when traveling to or from legislative sessions, except in cases of treason or felony.
While originally intended to prevent political hackery where legislators might be arrested, intimidated by political opponents, and prevented from voting, "it was clearly not meant to protect people who are accused of drunk driving," said attorney Dan Recht to KDVR.
Bradford denies having invoked legislative immunity during the encounter, but police say she told officers she was returning from the legislature and would return in the morning. Fox31's Julie Hayden disagrees:
A Denver Post report adds that Bradford had failed several roadside sobriety tests. She was driving her personal car with legislative license plates.
Regardless of whether the clause was properly interpreted, critics still believe Bradford acted illegally. The House finished work at 10:30 a.m. the morning of the 25th, casting doubt on Bradford's late-night legislative duties.
Reached for comment by the Daily Sentinel, however, Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson countered: "If she says she's leaving the Capitol, leaving a legislative event, we have to take her word for it.. How would you prove anything? Think about it, how would you prove any of that? The law is the law, and we are bound by it."
Bradford is expected to address the state House today. She also released this statement Monday:
Colleagues and friends, it's with a deep sense of pain and remorse that I stand before you today. I am not above the law. I am bound to the same laws and standards as every other citizen. I am sorry that my actions have cast a shadow on this House and the entire General Assembly. Last Wednesday evening, I was pulled over by the Denver Police for traffic violations. I was driving my personal car with legislative license plates. In response to the officer's inquiries, I stated that I was leaving a legislative function and needed to be at the Capitol the next day. I responded to officers' questions. My statements were not intended to invoke legislative privilege. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to each member of this body, to my constituents and to the people of Colorado.