Post article on Voorhis case omitted that GOP-backed Trailhead reportedly hired detective who sought info from crime database

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

A December 5 Denver Post article reported on Colorado Republicans' "considering asking a federal grand jury to look into the prosecution" of federal immigration agent Cory Voorhis, who is "charged with accessing confidential information" from a national crime database. Despite reporting that the Denver district attorney's office "also used [the database] to obtain the same information," the Post did not mention, as it had in a previous article, that an investigator reportedly hired by a state Republican group said he asked a friend to obtain information from the database.

The Denver Post reported on December 5 that state Republican legislators "are considering asking a federal grand jury to look into the prosecution" of federal immigration agent Cory Voorhis, who is "charged with accessing confidential information used by Republican Bob Beauprez's 2006 gubernatorial campaign." Although the Post further reported that "[t]he Denver [district attorney's] office also used NCIC [National Crime Information Center] to obtain the same information," the article failed to mention that a private investigator reportedly hired by the Republican-backed Trailhead Group in 2006 said he asked a friend to access the NCIC database -- as the Post reported on November 21.

In addition, the December 5 article, by Karen E. Crummy, reported, "Voorhis used NCIC to track down the aliases of an illegal immigrant who had been charged with heroin possession while Gov. Bill Ritter was the Denver district attorney, but was allowed to plead guilty to agricultural trespassing -- an offense that doesn't mandate deportation." In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted repeatedly, while the "agricultural trespass" plea deals Ritter's office approved might have helped legal immigrants avoid deportation, illegal immigrants are subject to deportation by federal officials regardless of any state or local pleas to which they agree, according to U.S. law.

As the Post reported, "State Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, said Tuesday that he and some of his colleagues are concerned about the secrecy and selectivity surrounding the prosecution of federal immigration agent Cory Voorhis. Schultheis said that a grand jury could examine all the facts involved in the case, including that two other people accessed the same database as Voorhis but aren't being prosecuted." The article later reported:

Federal and state investigators are still investigating the access of the restricted National Crime Information Center database by three separate people.

Voorhis used NCIC to track down the aliases of an illegal immigrant who had been charged with heroin possession while Gov. Bill Ritter was the Denver district attorney, but was allowed to plead guilty to agricultural trespassing -- an offense that doesn't mandate deportation.

After receiving probation, the man, using a different name, committed a sex crime in California.

The Denver DA's office also used NCIC to obtain the same information, which was given to District Attorney Mitch Morrissey for "informational purposes," according to DA communications director Lynn Kimbrough.

It's not clear whether that information was given to the Ritter campaign.

However, according to the November 21 Post article, also by Crummy, in addition to Voorhis and the Denver DA's office, a "Texas private eye" whom Trailhead reportedly had hired "to track down information about an illegal immigrant featured in a Beauprez campaign ad" said that he asked "a friend in the Harris County, Texas, district attorney's office" to access the restricted NCIC database:

One of the mysteries surrounding the case of a federal agent who accessed confidential information used by Republican Bob Beauprez's 2006 gubernatorial campaign has been solved.

A Texas private eye came forward Tuesday, saying he was hired by a Republican political committee -- The Trailhead Group -- to track down information about an illegal immigrant featured in a Beauprez campaign ad. The ad criticized Democrat Bill Ritter and plea deals his office made with illegal immigrants while he was Denver district attorney.

State and federal investigative reports cited by the agent's attorneys in court filings last month alleged that the Houston-based private eye, now identified as Kenny Rodgers, had been hired by the Colorado GOP.

The revelation coincided with Tuesday's federal arraignment of the immigration and customs agent, Cory Voorhis, who faces three misdemeanor counts of exceeding his authorized access to a government computer.

Rodgers, head of Gulf Coast AccuSearch, said he asked a friend in the Harris County, Texas, district attorney's office to use a restricted database, the National Crime Information Center, to locate information about the illegal immigrant. Access to the NCIC is restricted to law-enforcement officers, federal workers and, in limited cases, members of Congress.

[...]

Rodgers was not working for the Colorado GOP, as had been alleged, but was paid $750 by Trailhead, a political group founded by former Gov. Bill Owens, oilman Bruce Benson and beer baron Pete Coors. Rodgers, the former chief investigator for the Harris County DA's office, declined to name his friend, but said he was retired and possibly under a criminal investigation.

A November 22 Post article reported that members of the Trailhead Group, a now-defunct political organization, denied Rodgers' allegation, saying, "They did not ask him to access a restricted database, the National Crime Information Center, or look up information about an illegal immigrant who had received a plea deal from Ritter's office." The article further reported:

Rodgers, who was paid $750 by Trailhead, has a different story. He said that he was referred to Trailhead by a Pennsylvania investigator, who was already hired by the group for $2,879. The group wanted information about the illegal immigrant who was allowed to plead down a heroin possession charge to agricultural trespassing, he said.

Rodgers said he asked a friend in the Harris County, Texas, district attorney's office to find this information, which was difficult because the illegal immigrant had a number of aliases.

The friend has since retired and may be facing a criminal investigation for inappropriately accessing the NCIC database, Rodgers said, which only law enforcement officials can do for specific purposes.

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