Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Waller accuses his DA race opponent of abuse of office, collusion

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2020 at 5:46 PM

click to enlarge Mark Waller: He's angry. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mark Waller: He's angry.
The campaign of Michael Allen, Republican candidate for district attorney, abused his office and violated attorneys' ethical standards by calling attention to questions surrounding the residency of El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller.

That was a portion of a campaign message from Waller to supporters.

Waller is running against Allen for the Republican nomination in the June 30 primary election. No Democrat is running, so the primary will decide the race.

Waller also lashed out at Colorado Springs City Councilor Jill Gaebler, saying she tried to derail his campaign.

At issue is where Waller lives. He says he lives on Mustang Rim Drive, within his district, while his political foes contend he lives in a home in Palmer Lake outside his district that he bought last fall using a Veterans Affairs-backed loan, which requires he occupy the house within 60 days of closing.

After Douglas Bruce filed a complaint when asked to do so by former El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, the 10th Judicial District DA's Office concluded there was insufficient evidence he had moved outside his district, which could have caused him to step down from that office. (The 10th District was referred the case after 4th Judicial District DA Dan May bowed out due to his support of Allen, a chief deputy DA in his office.)

In the message, Waller, who didn't respond to the Indy's request for comment last week when the 10th Judicial District DA's Office released the finding, says he's "angry because Michael Allen's campaign recklessly put my family at risk for political gain."

He also wrote:
I'm angry because Michael Allen's campaign decided attacking me personally is a better campaign strategy than debating qualifications. But most of all, I'm angry because a sitting senior deputy district attorney and a sitting Colorado Springs Council member so callously and without regard to oaths they've taken thought it appropriate to abuse the office of the District Attorney and the criminal justice system for political gain. This is a clear violation of the ethical standards attorneys swear to uphold, but it's also a breech of the trust the public puts in people in positions of authority.

Here's the story. Michael Allen's campaign colluded with Jill Gaebler and Jim Bensberg to file a complaint with the DA's office for the purpose of derailing my campaign. Since Gaebler and Bensberg are two of Allen's biggest supporters, they didn't want their names associated with the complaint, so they solicited Doug Bruce to file the complaint. Bruce filed the complaint with the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office, who sent it to the 10th Judicial District Attorney's office. Gaebler, who was staking out my house herself, was collaborating with Allen's campaign and pushed the Gazette to write a story. I found out a complaint had been filed, not by an official source, but by a reporter. To be clear, the complaint was rejected without merit.
The email contained these quotes lifted from the report:
click to enlarge 7485d668-7b28-45dc-add9-866711baebf1.jpg
Tenth Judicial District DA Jeff Chostner's report states that although Waller bought property in Palmer Lake and spends time there, the investigation revealed he resides on Mustang Rim Drive within his commissioner district, based on a lease agreement, copies of checks for rent, mail addressed to him there and his driver's license and vehicle registration address.

Chostner wrote, "there is not a showing that Mr. Waller abandoned his residence" on Mustang Rim Drive." Hence, he added, "There is insufficient evidence to support that Mr. Waller vacated his County Commissioner seat."

Chostner didn't address the VA loan.

Allen has previously said he didn't have anything to do with the complaint about Waller's residency and it's not appropriate to politicize the issue. He didn't respond to a request for comment about Waller's email message.

Gaebler, who was attending a City Council meeting May 26, didn't respond. But last week she said in an email, "... no matter where Mark Waller is living, he is either defrauding the [Veterans Affairs] or the citizens living in his commission district. He isn’t an ethical person, and should not be our next district attorney.”

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