BROOMFIELD – Controversy over Broomfield’s election took an extreme twist Wednesday when the city notified certified election watchers Mary Eberle and Marilyn Marks that they would have to defend their requests to view public records in court.
“To the extent that we have not previously provided the documents you have requested, we will not be providing any additional documents… pending the outcome of the attached Application for Immediate Review of Public Records Request” which was filed in the Broomfield District Court said Broomfield Clerk and Recorder Jim Candelarie in an email to Eberle and Marks.
“We are of the opinion that disclosure of the documents you requested may do substantial injury to the public interest,” asserted Candelarie, who is asking the court to determine if the documents are public record under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
“The City has argued in the petition that ‘voter privacy’ remains an issue, but without in any manner explaining how that would be true,” responded Marks to city officials.
“There is nothing that could possibly suggest that the records are sensitive,” said Marks who with Eberle founded Citizen Center, a nonprofit dedicated to election integrity and transparency.
“The action the City took was clearly meant to intimidate and harass and make the election integrity advocates leave Broomfield to conceal the records they wish to keep from the public,” declared Marks.
Marks and Eberle maintain that the CORA list of records to review does not compromise or expose how an individual voted in the November election. Broomfield’s legal action to seal records follows a scathing report by the Secretary of State’s office that cited Candelarie’s errors in processing ballots and disenfranchising voters.
“I was shocked to discover the City of Broomfield took legal action to hale me into court to litigate a request I made for public documents under the provisions of (CORA),” responded Eberle in an email to Candelarie, Broomfield City Council members, attorney Bill Tuthill and other officials.
“Such CORA-review lawsuits,” said Eberle “have dragged on for years, and the average legal cost to the citizen making the document request is between $50,000 and $75,000,” she said.
Because of the expense, Eberle withdrew her CORA request.
“It is a shame that open government as provided by CORA is only truly open to those with extensive financial means, and surely this outcome was not the legislature’s intention when they passed our Sunshine Laws,” she said.
“The documents I requested could only be public documents, so for the Broomfield clerk to ask the District Court for review of my request is pure harassment from the City,” contended Eberle. “Such harassment is being funded by taxpayers, many or most of whom would no doubt disapprove of this Council’s action.”
There is no record that the council members were consulted or voted on the legal action that names Eberle and Marks as defendant. “I personally was not informed,” said Broomfield City Councilman Mike Shelton.
Marks said that she intends to appear in court and has no intention of retracting her CORA request for records.
“It is disappointing to see the Broomfield cover-up of the flawed election continue to attempt to punish those who wish to verify the election,” said Marks. “Why do Broomfield officials wish to conceal the facts from the public and make an example of those who attempt to bring transparency to the election?”
Candelarie also contends that records cannot be made public because the certification on the final ballot recount of Question 300, which would ban hydraulic fracturing for five years, was blocked by District Court Judge Francis Wasserman in response to action filed by Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition (BBEC).
Though the court decertified the election results pending the outcome of a hearing, the city and county of Broomfield posted a notice on Dec. 12 that states:
Canvass Board certifies Question 300 recount election
Representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) were once again present and spent several hours answering questions and discussing the contents of its previously published report.
City and County Attorney Bill Tuthill advised that the ban on hydraulic fracturing activity contained in Question 300 is now in effect.
Additional status updates will be posted as necessary.