DENVER (AP) – A complaint from a Colorado legislator alleging a gun lobbyist threatened her with negative mailers remains unresolved because the lobbyist refused to fully participate in the inquiry, lawmakers investigating the matter said.
The lawmakers said in a report Tuesday that a committee meeting next month to review the case should consider issuing a subpoena to compel further testimony from lobbyist Joe Neville with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group. In the report, the lawmakers say they were unable to reach a final conclusion because there are many unanswered questions.
Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou voted against new gun restrictions this year, but she says her constituents had been receiving misinformation questioning her stance before her votes. She filed an ethics complaint in late February, saying that Neville threatened her with mailers after she confronted him just outside of the House chambers.
Gerou and Neville agree that their conversation on Feb. 15 began with Gerou telling him his group should “stop lying to her constituents,” according to the report.
“She then told Mr. Neville: ‘Go (expletive) yourself,” the report said. Gerou said Neville had sneered at her before she swore. In response to Gerou’s swearing, Neville said, “You’re not helping yourself. You just earned yourself another round of mailers.”
Gerou said what made Neville’s actions especially inappropriate was that it was inside the Capitol. Lobbyists are forbidden from trying to influence lawmakers “by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic or political reprisal,” according to rules.
“If he said that at a street corner, it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s what he said to me, where he said it to me that mattered,” she said Wednesday.
The bills that Gerou voted against included an expansion of background checks and limits on ammunition magazines. Only Democrats voted in favor.
Although Neville initially participated in the complaint hearings, he read a statement calling the investigative panel an “unconstitutional tribunal” and walked out of the room during his final appearance and never returned.
“I think the entire process is a blatant attempt to stifle the speech of law-abiding gun owners,” he said Wednesday.
The lawmakers looking into Gerou’s complaint said it’s still unclear whether Neville intended to influence Gerou’s vote on the House floor the day of the confrontation. It’s also in dispute what physical contact they had had during their argument. Neville has said that Gerou poked him in the chest.
Neville said he’s not worried about a possible subpoena.
“I’m not losing sleep over it,” he said.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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