DENVER — One day after GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez released a TV ad citing last year’s murder of former Colorado Dept. of Corrections Chief Tom Clements’ as an example of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s failure to keep the state safe, Clements’ widow, Lisa, asked Beauprez to stop.
“Mr. Beauprez, it is with great sadness and frustration that I am breaking my silence on matters involving the death of my husband,” Lisa Clements wrote to Beauprez Thursday in a letter shared with Colorado media outlets.
“On several occasions this year, you have attempted to use our family’s tragic loss for your personal and political gain, and we are respectfully asking you to stop. We’re requesting you to please stop referencing our tragedy in your debate statements and in your campaign ads. Because every time you do, you re-open the wounds that our family continues to suffer from.
“We have not asked you to defend or publicize our experience, and we are not interested in accepting the support of anyone who chooses to do so with the expectation of something in return.”
Clements was gunned down last March when he opened his front door to Evan Ebel, a recently paroled inmate released straight from solitary confinement, a practice that, ironically, Clements and Hickenlooper were working to reform.
Late Thursday night following a blistering editorial by the Denver Post, Beauprez’s campaign announced that it had edited the reference to Ebel out of the ad.
“While it is a legitimate issue to raise concerns about the administration’s failure to reform parole, out of respect to the spouse of a victim of parolee violence, we have removed that specific line from our ad,” said Allen Fuller, Beauprez’s communications director, in a statement emailed to reporters just before 10 p.m.
In place of the Ebel reference, Beauprez has added a new criticism to the ad focused on the policy of allowing death row inmates to have “leisure time.”
On Wednesday after the ad, which features video of chirping crickets outside of a dark home at night with text appearing on screen referencing the Clements murder, Hickenlooper’s campaign said the ad “goes too far.”
Thursday, following a debate with Hickenlooper, Beauprez held a press conference with two Republican district attorneys doubling-down on his critique of the Hickenlooper administration’s policies around sentencing and parole.
“No wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s a very serious problem,” Beauprez told FOX31 Denver earlier Thursday afternoon before Clements’ letter. “Evan Ebel is but one example.”
Beauprez issued another response after Lisa Clements’ letter was released to the media but did not apologize for focusing on her husband’s murder as part of a policy argument in the closing days of the campaign.
“I, and I am sure all Coloradans, grieve for the families of all victims of violent parolees,” Beauprez said in a statement. “I will remain focused on bringing public safety reform to Colorado that will make our communities safer.
“The truth is Evan Ebel should not have been released. That was the first critical mistake. Failure to find and resolve the court sentencing error is inexcusable.
“John Hickenlooper signed legislation that allowed prisoners like Evan Ebel to earn time towards release even while in solitary confinement,” Beauprez continued. “When legislation was introduced this year to fix this problem, the governor failed to support it and the bill died.
“The governor also failed to provide resources to the Division of Parole so that we can have more confidence that those on parole are less likely to commit new crimes and that dangerous fugitives are immediately sought after and apprehended.
“I am running for governor to do everything in my power to ensure these tragedies do not happen to more Colorado families.”