Briefline

These Colorado lawmakers seeking reelection have faced post-redistricting residency questions

By: - September 27, 2022 4:43 pm

A view of the south side of the Colorado Capitol, on July 2, 2022. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

The true residency of a third state legislator has been called into question as lawmakers seek reelection following the once-a-decade redistricting process, which shuffled district lines and at times put incumbents outside their current district.

Boulder County Republicans Chair Theresa Watson submitted a complaint to the Boulder County district attorney’s office last week, according to the party’s Facebook page and as first reported by The Daily Camera, against state Rep. Tracey Bernett.

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The complaint alleges that Bernett, a Democrat, changed her address in order to remain eligible to run for reelection in House District 12, even though she still lives at a house that now sits in the newly drawn House District 19.

Bernett’s candidate affidavit, filed Nov. 3, 2021, lists her physical address as an apartment in Louisville. Before, her address was listed as a home in Longmont.

The new House District 19, represented by Republican Rep. Dan Woog of Erie, favors Republicans while House District 12 favors Democrats, according to an analysis released by nonpartisan redistricting commission staff.

“The claimant has submitted ample evidence to prove that Rep. Bernett’s ‘principal or primary home or place of abode is indeed the home on Crestview Lane (in) Longmont; the home she has shared with her husband for the last 26 years and still does. It is now in the hands of the Boulder DA’s office to consider for investigation,” a press release from the Boulder County Republicans reads.

Bernett did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. She declined to comment when asked by reporters from The Colorado Sun and The Daily Camera as well.

Mullica complaint shot down

The residency of state Rep. Kyle Mullica was also questioned recently.

Two voters, represented by a lawyer who often represents conservative groups, filed a challenge in Denver District Court earlier this month that alleged Mullica, a Democrat, hasn’t lived in the Senate district he is running to represent for at least a year, as required by state law.

Mullica changed his voter registration address to his mother’s home in Federal Heights from his family’s home in Northglenn in November 2021. The Federal Heights home is in Senate District 24, which he is running to represent, while the Northglenn home is in Senate District 25. Mullica’s family then moved to a Thornton home in Senate District 24 in April.

Mullica said he moved into his mother’s home to care for her and help her manage health and financial issues.

A judge ruled on Sept. 21 that Mullica did not violate the state’s residency requirement.

Questions, but no legal action, against Hisey

The Colorado Ethics Institute, a Democratic-aligned non-profit, raised questions in August about the residency of Republican state Sen. Dennis Hisey in August.

Hisey’s home in Fountain was drawn from Senate District 2 to Senate District 12 during redistricting. Senate District 12 is represented by Republican Sen. Bob Gardner, who isn’t up for reelection until 2024, meaning Hisey needed to run in another district if he wanted to continue serving.

CEI alleges that Hisey listed his residency as his son’s Colorado Springs home in the competitive Senate District 11 to run for that seat, despite still living in the Fountain home.

“Given Sen. Hisey’s apparent efforts to claim a district of residency where it does not exist (and to seek to represent voters who are miles from where he appears to spend his days and nights), I am writing to request that your office conduct a thorough investigation into whether he illegally cast a ballot in an election for which he was ineligible, as well as any other potential violations of Colorado law,” a letter to the 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen from CEI’s Curtis Hubbard reads.

Hubbard asked the office to investigate whether Hisey broke any Colorado law, such as lying about his residence for the purpose of voting, a felony charge on which outgoing Democratic state Sen. Pete Lee was indicted in August.

No legal complaint, like the one filed against Mullica, was filed against Hisey. A voter would need to file a legal complaint in civil court to official challenge the residency requirement.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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