Colorado panel advances security bill for elected officials – The Denver Post

DENVER — Spurred by an increase in threats against public servants, a Colorado legislative panel has advanced a bill that would provide extra security to the state’s chief elections officer and other statewide elected officials.

The bill would allow the Colorado State Patrol to assign at least one officer to the secretary of state, the attorney general and the state treasurer up to 80 hours per week, upon request, with additional security resources available if the chief of the patrol deems it’s warranted.

State lawmakers may request security under procedures to be developed by legislative leadership and the patrol, which is entrusted with security at the Capitol and surrounding state government offices.

Sen. Faith Winter, a Democrat, and Kevin Priola, a Republican, said their measure is designed to respond to thousands of threats against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who’s become a nationwide advocate for secure elections and a prominent debunker of fraudulent claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from President Donald Trump.

Women — and especially Black, Indigenous and women of color, as well as transgender women — are dissuaded more and more from seeking public office because they worry about their own and their families’ safety in an increasingly vitriolic political environment, Winter and Priola told the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

“I see this as a direct threat to our democracy,” Winter said. “We’ve seen increased threats against all 100 of us. Not just one side,” she said, referring to Colorado’s 100-member Democratic-led Legislature.

The secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer must request security for public appearances or for travel through the governor’s office.

An original version of the bill gave discretion to the state patrol to decide the merits of each request. A version that passed on a party-line 3-2 vote on Tuesday would ensure the 80 hours of protection and allow the patrol chief to decide if more is warranted.

Legislative economists estimated about $825,000 would be needed to pay for the added security under the original bill.

“The secretary of state’s office is living in a threat environment unlike any we’ve ever seen,” Griswold testified. She noted that the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin in January warning of potential of violence by political extremists relating to election-fraud conspiracies heading into the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

Griswold cited a few of the threats she’s received: “You will never walk the streets in peace again,” and, “What is your neck size?”

“I will not be intimidated nor deterred,” she vowed.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about your safety. Let that be with us, and do your work for the state of Colorado,” said patrol Capt. Mike Hahn, whose agency worked on the legislation with Griswold and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ office.

Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg said he had problems making a patrol escort mandatory for the three statewide elected officials, instead of allowing security experts at the state patrol to determine when it is warranted. He ultimately voted against the bill, as did GOP Sen. Cleave Simpson.

The bill advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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