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Colo. Rep. takes couple to task over letter

Denver Post | September 3, 2007
Erin Emergy

Rep. Doug Lamborn left two voice mails at the home of a couple who questioned his acceptance of campaign contributions from the gambling industry, saying there would be "consequences" if the couple did not respond.

Jonathan and Anna Bartha wrote a letter printed in the Aug. 24 Woodmen Edition, a community newspaper.

The couple raised concerns about Lamborn's receipt of $1,000 from International Game Technology PAC and a $500 contribution last summer from Marc Murphy, an executive of Bronco Billy's Casino in Cripple Creek. IGT makes gambling equipment.

Jonathan Bartha, 34, is employed by Focus on the Family. His wife, a board member of Falcon School District 49, worked for two months as a scheduler for candidate Jeff Crank during a bitter, six-way Republican primary race for the 5th Congressional District seat.

In his messages, Lamborn said he wanted to appeal to the couple as "brothers and sisters in Christ" and implored them to call him back to discuss their "blatantly false" letter.

"We felt very threatened and intimidated, and quite frankly, scared," Anna Bartha said. "It was just not anything we would ever anticipate an elected official would pursue or a way that an elected official would conduct himself."

When asked whether his messages were threatening, Lamborn said: "No, that is ridiculous. My hope, I failed, but I had hoped to meet with them privately and confidentially because lying is a serious matter. "

When asked what he meant when he said there would be "consequences," Lamborn said: "When someone tells a lie, it just has bad consequences."

Three days after leaving the messages on the Barthas' voice mail, Lam born wrote an open letter to Greg Garcia, chair of the El Paso County Republicans, asking him to investigate.

In an open letter to the party on Aug. 8, Garcia said the local party would not tolerate false or misleading statements in campaigns.

"That's a lot of what I'm thinking of when I talk about 'there are consequences,' because Greg Garcia had said earlier that there is going to be a punishment if people tell lies in the course of a campaign," Lamborn said.

As a private citizen, Bartha has the right to question an elected official's actions.

Federal records show that Lamborn received a $1,000 check Jan. 30, 2007, from the IGT PAC. Records also show receipt of $500 from Murphy last summer.

Lamborn said he has returned both contributions, but he could not say when that was done.

Nancy Brown, a spokeswoman for Jones Vargas, a law firm in Reno, Nev., that represents IGT, said the company's PAC sent a $1,000 contribution to Lamborn in January. She said Lamborn returned the check, although she could not provide the date of the return.

Federal records do not show that the check was returned.

Murphy could not be reached for comment.

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