U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has apologized to a Colorado Springs couple who say the congressman left them threatening voice mails after they questioned his fundraising practices.
Lamborn, a first-term Colorado Springs Republican, said Wednesday he was misconstrued when he left Jonathan and Anna Bartha a message saying there would be “consequences” if they did not withdraw a letter criticizing him for apparently accepting money from gambling interests. Federal Elections Commission records show International Gaming Technology sent Lamborn a $1,000 check in January, though Lamborn said it was returned because he would not accept money from the gambling industry, which he opposes. “When my record is not accurately portrayed, I am quick and passionate in attempting to set the record straight,” Lamborn wrote in the letter sent Tuesday, a copy of which was provided by his office. “Unfortunately, recent events have risen to a level that was unintended. “I apologize for any confusion my voice mail may have caused.” Lamborn said Wednesday from Washington that by “consequences,” he meant making the matter public by reporting it to the county GOP chairman to investigate. “Apparently, when I left my message, I created confusion as to what my intent was, and I wanted to apologize for that,” he said. Lamborn has asked El Paso County Republican chairman Greg Garcia to investigate the Barthas’ letter. Anticipating another primary contest next year, Garcia wrote an open letter last month saying that “Our party will no longer tolerate false or misleading statements or innuendos.” The county party organization is drafting a response to Lamborn’s request, said Nathan Fisk, the group’s executive director. Jonathan Bartha is employed by Focus on the Family. His wife, Anna, a board member of Falcon School District 49, worked for two months as a scheduler for Jeff Crank, one of Lamborn’s opponents in last year’s GOP primary. Anna Bartha declined to comment on the letter Wednesday. “We really haven’t discussed it extensively because we haven’t seen it ourselves,” she said. International Gaming Technology, a Nevada-based slot machine maker, confirmed Wednesday that Lamborn returned the check. Chuck Brooke, the company’s senior vice president for government affairs, said the check — sent in January — hadn’t been returned by the time the company’s political action committee filed its midyear FEC report in June. The check was sent to Lamborn unsolicited, after his name was provided by a senior GOP lawmaker raising money for freshman Republicans, Brooke said. He could not say exactly when the check was returned but said it was “several weeks” ago. Lamborn said the delay in returning the check was because his wife is running the finances for his campaign committee, and she was frequently out of the state to be with her ill mother. He said that he knows the Barthas and supported Anna Bartha’s school board campaign, and that he wanted the matter to remain private. “I would have been glad for them to just pick up the phone and call me, because we do know each other,” Lamborn said. Asked if he regretted saying there would be consequences, Lamborn said, “I could certainly do a lot better in hindsight.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-1605 or firstname.lastname@example.org