Weiser Ensures Election Integrity and Security in Colorado

Weiser Ensures Election Integrity and Security in Colorado Weiser asegura integridad y seguridad electoral en Colorado

COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL | Phil Weiser confident that Colorado’s gun control laws will prevail in court. (Photo/El Comercio de Colorado)


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Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser reaffirms his commitment to ensuring the integrity and security of elections in the state. During his recent interview with our publication, Weiser mentioned specific cases of voter intimidation that his office has addressed, emphasizing the importance of having free and fair elections. “We stopped intimidation attempts in Fort Morgan and are prepared to act again if we detect any signs of voter intimidation,” Weiser stated.

Furthermore, he emphasized that his office is equipped to prosecute electoral fraud and the use of deepfakes to manipulate public opinion, ensuring that those who attempt to undermine elections will be held accountable. Regarding gun control, Weiser remains firm in defending Colorado’s current safety laws, such as the waiting period for gun purchases and the ban on ghost guns. He acknowledges the legal challenges these laws face but is confident they will prevail in court.

Trust in Safe2Tell

“We are working to ensure that dangerous individuals do not have access to firearms,” he declared. Finally, Weiser highlighted the ongoing efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking and the importance of the Safe2Tell program, which has been crucial in preventing tragedies in schools. “We are receiving more reports than ever, which reflects the trust in Safe2Tell, but also indicates that young people are facing many challenges,” he concluded.

The Interview

ACTION AGAINST INTIMIDATION AND FRAUD| Phil Weiser, Colorado Attorney General. (Video/El Comercio de Colorado)

Election Integrity and Security

Jesús Sánchez Meleán: What are your concerns regarding election security?

Phil Weiser: In the last elections in Fort Morgan, there was a community where the owner of a mobile home park told residents that if they didn’t vote for Donald Trump, their rent could increase. That type of intimidation is illegal. We stopped it. If we see signs of voter intimidation, we will act again to stop it. It is very important that we have free elections and protect the integrity of our elections.

We do this in various ways, including, for example, prosecuting those who commit petition fraud. We now have new authority to prosecute those who use deepfakes [AI-manipulated images or video] to make someone believe a candidate is saying something they are not. We need to stay vigilant. We need to ensure we protect the security of our elections.

JSM: But do you think something like what happened in Mesa County could happen again?

PW: Right now, our office is working to prosecute Tina Peters. She was a county clerk in Mesa and acted in ways that interfered with the election machines. She broke the law. We are working to hold her accountable. There is always the risk that election workers or county clerks could do things to interfere with the security of our elections. We will stay vigilant. We are pursuing this case because it is important to show that if you undermine our elections, you will be held accountable.

JSM: What is your message to volunteers who may be afraid to help in the elections because they fear punishment or intimidation?

PW: We cannot let the haters win. For citizens who serve as election workers, we need you. And if anyone tries to intimidate or threaten you, let us know so we can hold them accountable. If good people stop getting involved to observe and work in our elections, that threatens our democracy. I take those threats very seriously.

Gun Control

JSM: How are the legal actions against the waiting period law for gun buyers progressing?

PW: Colorado, in the last six years, has continued to enact gun safety protections, such as the legislation establishing a waiting period before someone can purchase a gun. A ban on ghost guns. A red flag laws. We are involved in defending these laws that are being challenged as violations of the Second Amendment.

I am concerned about the Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment, and there is a case in the Supreme Court this year in which we are involved. We are arguing that taking guns away from people involved in domestic violence is fine and does not violate the Second Amendment. I hope we win that case. We need to ensure we win other cases. This way, dangerous people, people who might harm themselves or others, do not get access to firearms.

JSM: What is the risk of a judicial instance eliminating this waiting period regulation before obtaining a gun? Is it possible that it could be dismantled, or do you think it will hold up?

PW: Right now, we have some uncertainty because of a recent Supreme Court case called Bruen [New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen] that has created some confusion about which laws violate the Second Amendment. Colorado laws, for example, that limit people under 21 from buying a firearm are being challenged.

Laws involving ghost guns are being challenged. Laws involving the waiting period are being challenged. I believe we will prevail in all these cases. I believe the best interpretation of the Second Amendment is one that allows reasonable gun safety protections. But the Supreme Court has created some uncertainty here, and ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to provide some clarity on which forms of protections, red flag laws, and others meet the constitutional standard.

We call it the Connection Effect. Friends don’t let friends take pills they get from illegal sources. If you get a pill that is not from a pharmacy, that pill is fentanyl and can kill you. This awareness work needs to remain something we spend time on.

We are also trying to work to stop social media sites from making fentanyl available and helping fentanyl sellers find customers. We wrote a report and proposed legislation that did not pass this year, but we will keep at it. We recognize there is much work to be done to increase awareness and prevent people from accessing fentanyl.

We continue to take cases where we go after cartels operating here and, in many cases, also in Mexico, pushing this poison. Also, a few years ago, Colorado passed a law that says if you sell fentanyl to someone and it kills them, that is a felony. There are now prosecutions under that law. That is progress.

When I talk about some successes, I want to talk about the work we have done with the money we obtained by suing big pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson and others that pushed these pills, creating addiction in people and generating a lot of money. We have held them accountable. We received $770 million in Colorado.

Ninety percent of that money is going to local and regional partners who are now building more education and awareness while providing Narcan. This way, people who are overdosing can receive more treatment opportunities, more recovery opportunities, more help for our law enforcement system to deal with this challenge. We are still in the early stages of responding to this crisis, and we have a lot of work to do.

Conflict with Colorado River Basin States

JSM: Are you comfortable with the consensus that has already been reached among the states in the Colorado River Basin? Or is there more that can be done?

PW: Regarding the Colorado River, we are still in a process that I hope leads to an agreement. The best outcome is an agreement with all the states in the Colorado River Compact, creating new guidelines. If we cannot reach an agreement and there ends up being litigation, I am not afraid of that litigation. Those litigations start in the U.S. Supreme Court. We have taken many cases there, and we are prepared to do so if necessary.

My job is to protect Colorado and the Colorado River Basin. The lower basin states, Arizona, California, and Nevada have used more water than they are entitled to. They need to change their behavior. We are here to work with them in finding solutions to help them and us together create new strategies on how we use water. We will need to be more efficient.

We will need to be smarter. We will need to be more adaptive. This is a change that is difficult. We will need help from the federal government as well. I hope we can put everything together and implement these new guidelines. But it is hard work, and it is not done yet.

JSM: But what is the main disagreement to reach an agreement at this point?

PW: The big challenge is the lower basin states. Arizona, California, and Nevada only have rights to 7.5 million acre-feet. They have been using up to 10 million acre-feet. So, they need to devise strategies to reduce. And we need to ensure that for the large reservoirs in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, we are creating safeguards so that we do not continue draining all the water there and have a problem because we are not protecting our reserves.

We believe that the smart solution involves one where we protect our reservoirs there. If they want to simply drain the reservoirs, that is going to be a bigger problem for our future.

Safe2Tell Report

JSM: What is your understanding after seeing the growth in the number of reports from the Safe2Tell program? What is the main lesson you learned?

PW: This academic year, this school year, we are receiving more Safe2Tell reports than ever before. We are going to set a record. That is a double-edged sword. There are two main lessons. One, we are getting the word out about Safe2Tell, people know that Safe2Tell, available in English and Spanish. It is a trusted resource and covers all kinds of threats to students.

From someone selling drugs in a school, someone bringing a gun or knife to school, someone thinking about taking their own life, someone engaging in self-harm behaviors. All of that can be reported to Safe2Tell, and that information can help prevent strategies, tragedies, or harm before it happens.

Here is the hard part: kids are suffering. Kids are engaging in dangerous behaviors. At levels that scare me and should scare all of us. The suicide numbers are staggering and continue to be staggering. That tells us we have a lot of work to do.

Caso de Elijah McClain 

JSM: Your office was part of the judicial actions in the case of Elijah McClain, who died during a procedure by Aurora Police officers. What is your reaction to the most recent decisions related to this case?

PW: The Elijah McClain cases took an enormous amount of work from our office. We had three separate trials. They were complex cases. And we worked very hard to bring justice for Elijah McClain and ensure we honor his life and tell the whole story. We did that, and we ended up getting three convictions. Out of the five people who were tried, the juries worked very hard and carefully to help reach those convictions.

And the lessons from this case have informed several changes in our criminal justice system, including ending the use of carotid holds, requiring officers to intervene to stop others from engaging in dangerous conduct that could escalate. We also banned the type of restraint used on Elijah McClain this year. This was a very important case. It is one in which we put an incredible amount of effort. I am proud of the work our team did on it.

Summer and Sports

JSM: Do you have any plans for the summer?

PW: I am planning to do the hike between Crested Butte and Aspen this summer. I have heard it is a beautiful hike. You have to dedicate a whole day to it, and we will have a family trip together, taking the hike. And I will have both of my kids home this summer. They are growing up. I cannot take that for granted, so I plan to enjoy them.

JSM: Have you had the chance to meet Jokic in person? You are as tall as he is.

PW: No, I have not met Jokic in person. It is funny when you go to the games and see how big the players are. People think Jamal Murray is a wall. No, Jamal Murray is a big guy. Jokic is a giant.

JSM: It would be important for him to know that the Attorney General of Colorado follows basketball.

PW: I really want to meet Aaron Gordon because most people in Colorado, when you talk about AG, think of Aaron Gordon. A few who follow the government think of me as the Attorney General. But Aaron Gordon is, as you might say, the OG AG.

JSM: But did you used to play basketball?

PW: Yes, I did play, never professionally. I played club sports in college. And then I even played here in Denver at the Jewish Community Center. I always said the games might not have been at the highest level, but the post-game analysis always was.

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