Praising state Rep. Stephens as “polished” and “articulate,” Michelli failed to mention her inaccurate legislative testimony

Joseph Michelli of News Radio 740 KVOR praised state Rep. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) as an “articulate” politician who “really has it all together,” and he described as “impressive” her efforts to pass an immigration-related crime bill. In touting Stephens, Michelli ignored reporting that she gave inaccurate testimony while advocating for the bill, and he mischaracterized bipartisan support for the bill.

News Radio 740 KVOR's Joseph Michelli began his April 30 broadcast by touting state Rep. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) as “polished” and “articulate” for work on an immigration-related crime bill, but he omitted the fact that Stephens provided inaccurate testimony in defense of that bill at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, as the Rocky Mountain News reported on April 27.

According to its summary, House Bill 1040, which Stephens sponsored, “Prohibits a court from dismissing criminal charges, at any stage of criminal proceedings, against a person who is illegally present in the country” and requires that a no-bond warrant “be issued in a criminal case when the defendant is determined to be illegally present in the country and the defendant is either removed from the country or is subject to removal.” The bill also prohibits a bond agent from recovering a bond if the defendant is an illegal immigrant subject to deportation. According to Stephens, the bill is designed to eliminate the possibility that criminal charges against an illegal immigrant get dropped when that person is deported from the United States. That way, if the illegal immigrant re-enters the country, he or she can be immediately incarcerated and stand trial for previous charges.

While Michelli praised Stephens for getting her bill through the House and being “so polished as a politician,” he ignored the News' reporting that Stephens “didn't have all the facts when she testified” in support of the bill at a House committee hearing:

A state lawmaker didn't have all the facts when she testified that a teen rape victim ran into her attacker a few weeks later, back on the street, after he'd been deported to Mexico, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said Thursday.

Before a House committee Wednesday, Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, held up Gabriel Chavez-Hurtado as an example of an illegal immigrant who received a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

That is when a violent offender, in the United States illegally, agrees to deportation, opening the door for a defense attorney to have his state criminal charges wiped clean, she said.

The News further reported that Stephens' testimony conflicted with the facts of the case, according to Quick:

The victim-attacker encounter in Adams County did occur, but charges against Chavez-Hurtado were never dropped, as Stephens implied Wednesday.

Before standing trial, Chavez-Hurtado was deported by federal immigration authorities to Mexico, but sneaked back into the country to Adams County.

After his victim spotted him in the car next to hers at an intersection, Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr launched a team to find him. He was later arrested on the rape warrant in New Mexico, prosecuted by Quick's office and is now serving three years in state prison.

“We did our job,” Quick said. “We caught him and extradited him and sent him to prison.”

The article also noted that “Stephens said she was forced to ad lib on details of the case during the hearing, after Darr had to cancel at the last minute because of a major gang member bust.”

Furthermore, Michelli mischaracterized HB 1040's legislative history, falsely accusing Democrats of drastically revising the bill and avoiding dealing with the problem of criminal illegal aliens. Before stating that Stephens “really has it all together,” Michelli asserted that “she has put forward a bill in the state legislature that continues to be dumbed down by people who don't seem to get it.” He later said that HB 1040 -- which received bipartisan support -- is “like the only bill that has had any success on immigration at the state legislature in a Democratically run House and Senate that have very little interest in doing anything that could harm the illegal immigrants.”

In fact, HB 1040 has passed through three House committees “with favorable recommendation” : the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee; the Judiciary Committee; and the Appropriations Committee. Moreover, contrary to Michelli's assertion that “the guts” of the legislation have been “stripped out,” the significant amendments to the bill did not delete the core provisions of the legislation. In fact, the bill's amendments provide the following:

  • Protection for professional bond agents by requiring law enforcement to notify a bond agent before a bond is issued when a defendant is subject to deportation.
  • Extra funding for increased incarceration of illegal immigrants in Colorado by earmarking forfeited bond money for the purpose of prison bed construction and prison operations.
  • Specific funding for relevant capital construction projects through fiscal year 2011-12.

Additionally, HB 1040 unanimously passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, 11-0, on April 25 with Democrats Mike Cerbo (Denver), Andrew Kerr (Lakewood), Claire Levy (Boulder), Rosemary Marshall (Denver), Morgan Carroll (Aurora), and Terrance Carroll (Denver) voting in favor of the legislation. Similarly, Stephens' bill passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on April 27 on a 9-3 vote with Democrats Michael Garcia (Aurora), Jim Riesberg (Greeley), Paul Weissmann (Louisville), and Bernie Buescher (Grand Junction) voting for the bill. It also passed the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on February 8 by a vote of 9-2, with Democrats Terrance Carroll, Cheri Jahn (Wheat Ridge), Jeanne Labuda (Denver), Nancy Todd (Aurora), and Weissmann in favor.

From the April 30 broadcast of News Radio 740 KVOR's The Joseph Michelli Show:

MICHELLI: Boy, I got to tell you, this -- I am so glad I'm represented by her. She is my representative in my district, and one of the great Republicans in our region. Amy Stephens has done the right thing by way of our interests in immigration. Basically, she has put forward a bill in the state legislature that continues to be dumbed down by people who don't seem to get it. They also try to, I think, kill this bill by moving it to every single committee you could possibly have it travel through. And she's gotten out of every one of them because she's so polished as a politician. She's able to negotiate. She's able to communicate. She's passionate, articulate. She really has it all together. And so she has worked and coalesced this bill through so many Democratic committees at the state level. It's, it's been impressive.

The bill basically says two things. If you, if you realized what was going on before here in the state of Colorado -- if I'm an illegal immigrant, I commit a crime, I go to jail. Then I ask to be deported. And guess what happens to my charges, my rape charges, for example? Now people are going to get this in the newspaper: “Michelli's been charged with rape.” Assuming I'm an illegal -- assuming I'm an illegal immigrant and I'm charged with rape, and I'm in jail in El Paso County, and I'm scheduled to go to trial. What do I do? I ask to be deported. Then they put me over into the federal custody and all of my charges are dropped, pending deportation. So I then go back to Mejico and I sneak back across the border. And guess what? When I'm arrested for rape again, what are my priors? None. So I ask to get deported. Yeah, you're following along right well this afternoon on the drive home. So, as a result of that, Amy has suggested that maybe what we should do is we should keep these charges active. And, and we should keep them alive and well. They'll be pending charges subsequent to my deportation and on record were I ever to be caught again in the United States. Number one issue.

Number two issue is that Amy thinks it would be good if I pay bond, and if I skip out on the bond that those bond monies be kept to do what? Pay for my incarceration. Or, if I get deported and I have bond money, then I never actually have to show up for trial, right? Because I am deported. That bond money should go into the funding of the county jails that are now taking a tax hit for having to take care of illegal immigrants. That's Amy Stephens' version of the world. She's done a masterful job circumnavigating all these committees to get the bill to where it needs to be. And at the last moment somebody worried about the implication to bondsmen has stripped out some of the guts of her legislation. And let me say, she's got more guts -- not only in her legislation, but in general. Because it's like the only bill that has had any success on immigration at the state legislature in a Democratically run House and Senate that have very little interest in doing anything that could harm the illegal immigrants.