By Mark Ackerman and Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4)– A CBS4 Investigation has uncovered issues with the residency of the Colorado Board of Education’s newest member, Deb Scheffel. One election expert calls it a “serious matter” after Scheffel listed a vacant property as her address on sworn documents.
Scheffel repeatedly insisted the vacant property, which was actually for rent, was where she lived.
If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Scheffel was a candidate in two of the most hotly contested education races in recent memory. In 2016, she ran for the Colorado Board of Education and lost. Then in 2017, she ran for Douglas County School board and lost.
But, in February 2018, the Republican from Parker was appointed to the Colorado Board of Education when fellow Republican Pam Mazanec resigned her seat.
To qualify to represent the 4th District, Scheffel signed sworn documents that her “Residence Street Address” was on Summit Ridge Road in Parker.
After Scheffel’s appointment to the state board, CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass caught up with her March 14 after a board meeting and repeatedly asked if she lived at that house.
Five times Scheffel answered “Yes.”
But, what Scheffel didn’t know during that interview is that a CBS4 producer had toured the home on Summit Ridge Road confirming in February, at the time of her appointment, the home was for rent. The furniture was gone. The home was vacant.
According to a rental agent and online ads, the home had been for rent since December 2017 – months before Scheffel signed documents saying she lived there. Further, a real estate agent indicated to the CBS4 producer that a longer lease would be preferable.
“So, they aren’t trying to move back here anytime soon?” asked CBS4. “No, the longer lease the better,” replied the agent.
After the interview, CBS4 reached out again to Scheffel who said she “misspoke” and interpreted the word “living” to mean “residence.” She said she was living a “nomadic existence” while waiting to close on a new home in the 4th District. She said she was traveling and living with family members at the time when she was appointed.
CBS4 took the findings to Rosemary Rodriguez, a Democrat, who was Denver’s Clerk and Recorder and served on the Denver Election Commission and on a National Election Assistance Commission.
“Those who represent us owe us honesty at the very least,” said Rodriguez. “I think it merits a full investigation.”
The questions don’t stop there. Scheffel now represents the 4th District, but In 2016, she ran for the Colorado Board of Education’s 6th District seat. She admits she moved in with her parents, who lived in the 6th District, to meet residency requirements. She said she still owned her home in the 4th District, but moved her “necessary belongings” to her parents’ house in the 6th District and “slept there every night.”
“I think she’s trying to get a seat on this board and trying to do whatever she feels is necessary,” said Rodriguez.
According to election records, Scheffel was registered to vote at her Summit Ridge home in the 4th District, but changed her registration to her parents’ house in the 6th District so she could run for office in 2016. Later, she would switch her registration back to the Summit Ridge address in the 4th District before she was appointed to the Colorado Board of Education in 2018.
So, what’s next for Scheffel? After losing races in 2016 and 2017 she has filed paperwork to run for the Colorado Board of Education as an incumbent in 2018.
Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark
CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.