Ethics Probe Starts Over Lawmaker's Traffic Stop

Rep. Laura Bradford Admits Drinking, But Says She Wasn't Drunk

Colorado lawmakers have launched an ethics investigation into a Republican lawmaker whose traffic stop has rocked the stability of the House GOP.

A committee of lawmakers met for the first time Monday to discuss the case of Collbran Rep. Laura Bradford.

Bradford was pulled over on Jan. 25 in Denver. Denver police said the officer said he smelled alcohol on Bradford's breath.

"She was given a field sobriety test, and there were enough indicators that the officer on the scene wanted to take her into custody for a blood test," said police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray. "It was determined by policy and state law that we would not detain or arrest the representative, because it was a misdemeanor offense."

While police said Bradford asked "to be treated like everyone else," Murray said the officer cited Bradford for careless driving and making an illegal turn. Her car was parked and she took a cab to her Denver residence.

Laura Bradford admitted to 7NEWS that she had multiple drinks prior to being pulled over that night.

"What did you have to drink that night?" 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger asked Bradford at the Capitol last week.

"Three glasses of wine in three-and-a-half hours, with a heavy meal in between," said Bradford.

"Do you feel you were drunk when you were driving?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"No," said Bradford.

Bradford's Response

Bradford has until Saturday to issue a written response to the ethics panel.

Officials said Bradford can also present emails, receipts, voicemails and other evidence she deems relevant in the case.

The panel will meet again next week.

Bradford Threatens To Leave Republican Party

The episode has created a rift for Republicans. Bradford has threatened to leave her party, jeopardizing the GOP's one-vote advantage in the House.

"There are other questions relating to the circumstances of that evening that on a House rule level and from the House of Representatives, must be looked at and reviewed," said House Speaker state Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch. "This isn't about putting any story to bed. This is a serious matter and it's something that deserves a thorough review."

Bradford told 7NEWS the ethics committee investigation is the final straw that has her considering leaving the Republican Party.

"I've been very frustrated for the last 14, 15 months," said Bradford. "This is not a judgment; it's not a rash decision, nor is it a quick decision, nor is it an easy one."

"I think that type of discussion is unfortunate and unproductive," said McNulty.

Republicans currently hold a 33-32 edge in the House. Should Bradford become a Democrat, the Democrats would have control of the House 33-32. That would give Democrats control of the House and Senate.

Should Bradford become unaffiliated, the House would be split 32-32-1. All House members would then have to vote on who would be in control between Republicans and Democrats.

Police Issue Apology

At a news conference last week, Denver police apologized for "mischaracterizing" the traffic stop concerning Bradford -- saying she was not the person who invoked legislative privilege -- but also revealed that she was possibly driving intoxicated with a weapon.

"We like to extend our apologies to Rep. Bradford. Over the past several days we have been making comments about a traffic situation that occurred," DPD spokesman Matt Murray said."We were wrong and because of what we were told we mischaracterized this to you in the press and, thus, mischaracterized what the representative did and said on that night."

The officer involved in the Jan. 25 traffic stop was unsure how to proceed because of the legislative plates on Bradford's car, so the officer called a supervisor to the scene, which is standard, Murray said.

The officer then spoke to the representative and smelled alcohol on her breath and Bradford indicated she had consumed alcohol, Murray said.

"When the supervisor arrived, the supervisor then contacted the representative. And it was the supervisor who asked if she was a representative. (The supervisor) was also the person who asked if she was coming from or going to a legislative session. The Denver Police Department brought that up, not the representative," Murray emphasized.

"It was determined by policy and state law that we would not detain or arrest the representative, because it was a misdemeanor offense," Murray said.

"The sergeant went back and spoke to the representative. The representative was told that she could have received a DUI and at that point (Bradford) said, 'I want to be treated like everyone else.' She made that statement several times during the stop," Murray said.

Bradford told 7NEWS that she never asked for special consideration.

"I think that's the biggest story. I repeatedly told them, 'Treat me like anybody else. Treat me like anybody else' and nobody has believed me," Bradford said.

Bradford Could Face A Gun Charge

When the cab arrived for Bradford, she was asked if she had anything of value in the vehicle and she stated that she had a gun, Murray said.

Murray said officers located a gun.

"The sergeant cleared the weapon to make sure it was safe, put it back in the vehicle, and then instructed the officer not to tell anybody about the weapon," Murray said.

However, Bradford disputes the police account of what happened with the gun.

Bradford told 7NEWS that after mentioning the handgun in her car, she showed police her concealed carry permit for it.

"I said 'There is a weapon under the front seat of the car, so when you're searching I just don't want you to stumble on it. So if you don't mind officer, would you please reach under the front seat of my car and pull out my weapon? The cartridge is in it, so why don't you just disengage that, and if you don't mind hand me my weapon.' "

Bradford said the officer removed the clip from the weapon, disengaged the handgun and then gave them both to her. She told 7NEWS she put the items in her purse.

There's a state law that prohibits the possession of a firearm if you're intoxicated and police officers are talking with the district attorney on whether to charge Bradford with that misdemeanor.

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