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Democratic state senator from Colorado Springs indicted on felony charge

Prosecutors in El Paso County say Sen. Pete Lee is accused of providing false information as to his residence
Colorado State Sen. Pete Lee directs a hearing about the child sexual abuse accountability act before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the State Capitol on March 11, 2021, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press file)

State Sen. Pete Lee, a Colorado Springs Democrat and the chair of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee, has been indicted on a felony charge alleging that he lied about where he lives for the purpose of voting.

Prosecutors in El Paso County said on Tuesday that Lee is accused of providing false information as to his residence, a Class 5 felony.

Lee had previously been accused of not living in his state Senate district – Senate District 11 – which is a requirement under state law. The Colorado Springs Independent reported in June 2020 that Lee listed his address as a house near downtown Colorado Springs that is in his Senate district instead of a home twice the size in Cheyenne Cañon, which is listed as his wife’s home but is in a different district, Senate District 12.

A blurb about Lee that was on the El Paso County Democrats website when he was running to represent Senate District 11 said he and his wife lived in Cheyenne Cañon.

“I go back and forth quite a bit,” he told the Independent.

State law also requires legislative candidates to live in the district they wish to represent for at least a year.

The grand jury indictment, which is five pages long, alleges Lee on March 3, 2020, “voted giving false information regarding the elector’s place of present residence.” March 3, 2020, was the date of the presidential primary.

State Sen. Pete Lee is accused of misrepresenting his place of residence.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said the indictment was handed down Aug. 3. Lee’s first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Lee didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, called Lee a “dedicated public servant who has spent his career supporting his community and working to improve the lives of all Coloradans.”

“I trust he’ll have a fair opportunity to be heard and that the legal process will allow for an airing of all of the facts,” Fenberg said in a written statement. “At his request, Senator Lee has been removed from his interim committee assignments until this matter is resolved.”

Lee was appointed in June to chair an interim committee charged with weighing whether the state should change how it investigates and disciplines judges.

Lee is not running for reelection this year after completing a four-year term in the Senate. The term ends in January.

Lee was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving in the House.

During his time in the Senate, Lee was the sponsor of a host of big-ticket criminal justice reform bills, including ones changing the juvenile justice code and dramatically changing the felony murder statute.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.