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Democrat Indicted On Felony Voting Charge in Colorado

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A grand jury in El Paso County, Colo., has handed down a significant charge against a prominent state Democrat.

According to The Associated Press, the grand jury indicted Democratic state Sen. Pete Lee, chairman of the state chamber’s Judiciary Committee, on a single count of voting outside the district where he resides in 2020, which is a violation of state law.

An attorney for the senator said he vociferously denies the felony allegation, the AP reported:

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The Aug. 3 indictment was first announced Tuesday by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office led by Republican District Attorney Michael Allen.

It alleges Lee, whose formal name is Sanford Edmund Lee, “voted giving false information” about his place of residence during the presidential primary on March 3, 2020, The Colorado Sun reports.

Lee declined comment on the charge, saying he’d just learned about it. But he said he’d requested to be removed from interim committees on judicial discipline and behavioral health in the criminal justice system “to avoid having my personal circumstances become a distraction,” according to a statement.

David Kaplan, an attorney representing Lee, said in a statement the charge “will be vigorously challenged.”

The AP added if convicted, Lee faces up to three years in prison and a potential fine of as much as $100,000. An initial court hearing on the case was scheduled for Sept. 8 in El Paso County earlier this month.

The AP reported that Lee is not seeking a second term this fall after he was elected to represent his district in El Paso County in 2018 after previously serving in the Colorado House.

Lee is not the only Democrat to face charges recently.

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Earlier this month, former California Democrat Rep. TJ Cox has been indicted on 28 felony counts of fraud that include money laundering and wire fraud.

The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday and some of the counts related to campaign contributions, CNN reported:

Cox pleaded not guilty in federal court on Tuesday afternoon, following his arrest hours before at the Fresno County federal courthouse, according to online records from the county Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud, according to court documents.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering charges, and up to 30 years in prison for the financial institution fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution charges.

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After spending the day in the Fresno County Jail, Cox was released on his own recognizance after surrendering his passport, court records indicated. His next court hearing is set for October 12 before Magistrate Judge Barbara McAuliffe.

Cox, 59 was in Congress representing California’s 21st Congressional District for just one term — January 2019 to January 2021. He was first elected to the seat in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent David Valadao. Cox came to Congress as part of a blue wave in congressional races across the country that led to Democrats taking back the House from Republicans. In 2020, however, Valadao defeated Cox to win back the seat.

Over the course of nearly a decade, Cox created a number of off-the-books bank accounts and lied to receive hefty loans, according to the indictment.

“In addition, Cox allegedly received mortgage loan funds from a lender for property purchase by submitting multiple false representations to the lender, including fabricated bank statements and false statements that Cox intended to live in the property as his primary residence. However, the indictment alleges Cox intended to and did buy the property to rent it to someone else,” The Department of Justice said.

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“According to allegations in the indictment, Cox also fraudulently obtained a $1.5 million construction loan to develop the recreation area in Fresno known as Granite Park. Cox and his business partner’s nonprofit could not qualify for the construction loan without a financially viable party guaranteeing the loan,” the statement continued.

“Cox falsely represented that one of his affiliated companies would guarantee the loan, and submitted a fabricated board resolution which falsely stated that at a meeting on a given date all company owners agreed to guarantee the Granite Park loan. No meeting took place, and the other owners did not agree to back the loan. The loan later went into default causing a loss of more than $1.28 million,” the DOJ added.

“According to allegations in the indictment, when Cox was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 election, he perpetrated a scheme to fund and reimburse family members and associates for donations to his campaign. Cox arranged for over $25,000 in illegal straw or conduit donations to his campaign in 2017,” the statement said.

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