Tenth Judicial District Attorney Bill Thiebaut has dismissed a legal complaint against the campaign of Congressman Doug Lamborn that was filed early this month over a television ad, and said no charges will be filed.
Karla Heard-Price filed a complaint with Colorado Springs District Attorney Dan May earlier this month, alleging that Lamborn’s campaign had broken the law by slandering a bank that was co-founded by Robert Blaha, who is running against Lamborn in the GOP primary. The complaint was forwarded to Thiebaut, of Pueblo, because May has endorsed Lamborn in the past.
Thiebaut wrote to Heard-Price on Friday that he had found no evidence that Lamborn had broken the law.
Lamborn’s ad alleged that the bank, Integrity Bank and Trust, was “one of the worst in the region.” But, as Heard-Price noted, the ad’s source found in December that the bank “exhibited a generally satisfactory condition.” Both citations were from www.bankrate.com.
Lamborn has said since that the ad was referring to a rating long since past, and so Heard-Price’s complaint didn’t apply. In addition, Heard-Price has worked as a volunteer on Blaha’s campaign. Also, the bank was not a party to the complaint. It was filed by Heard-Price alone.
Thiebaut dismissed the complaint for entirely different reasons.
The law Heard-Price said Lamborn’s campaign was breaking requires that any untrue allegations against a bank must result in a significant decrease in public confidence in a bank, or in an “extraordinary withdrawal of funds.” The law also requires a person to have made a “derogatory false statement” about the bank.
Breaking the law is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
But Lamborn’s ad neither caused a huge withdrawal or damaged the bank’s reputation, wrote Thiebaut. And whether it made a “derogatory false statement” was unlikely, he wrote.
Thiebaut did write that Lamborn’s ad took a complex subject and used it “to suit his political purposes.” But he said Heard-Price had not presented any evidence to prove that he knew it was a false statement.
Lamborn spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said in a statement that the complaint was part of “a disturbing pattern” of Blaha and his supporters making baseless allegations.
“This shows why Mr. Blaha lacks credibility in this campaign and why so many people are not taking him seriously,” Mortensen said.
Blaha replied that he’d had nothing to do with the complaint, and pointed out that Integrity hadn’t, either.
“To the best of my knowledge, no one in my campaign was contacted,” said Blaha. “Ms. Price can do whatever she wants to do.”
He criticized Thiebaut slightly, and said it appeared to him that the DA hadn’t investigated at all, but merely relied on the allegations Heard-Price wrote about.
“I thought that’s what DA’s are supposed to do — investigate,” Blaha said.