Jared Polis

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado’s Democratic nominee for governor, talks with a reporter after touring an apprenticeship training facility at the Pipefitters Local 208 union hall on Sept. 11 in Denver. (Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

An incident 19 years ago involving Jared Polis, an employee and the police has surfaced amid the Democrat’s campaign for governor.

On June 23, 1999, Polis — then a businessman — called police to report he suspected an employee who had recently given her notice, Patricia Hughes, was attempting to make off with documents from the offices of JPS International , a Boulder-based company he owned.

Two officers responded to Polis’ call. The police report filed at the time, reciting what Polis told officers, says that after Polis called the police but before officers arrived, Hughes “attempted to leave the office. (Polis) physically blocked the door to prevent her from leaving. She moved toward him again, this time hitting him with one of her bags. (Polis) then put both of his hands on her shoulders and pushed her back to prevent her from leaving.”

Here's your chance to give the candidates for all Colorado's major offices a piece of your mind

A supplement to the report says Hughes told officers that Polis “grabbed her and pushed her back into the office” when she tried to leave. “Hughes said that when (Polis) pushed her she was pushed back into a filing cabinet, hurting her leg.” She also told officers she attempted to dial 911 three times and that Polis had disconnected the phone twice.

The officers discovered company documents in Hughes’ bags, including original contracts involving some of the other companies Polis owned. They issued a ticket to Hughes on a charge of theft of trade secrets.

Three months later, Hughes pleaded guilty and received an 18-month deferred sentence, which she completed.

The incident did not come up in Polis’ several campaigns for public office since then, including his bid for the state Board of Education and five runs for the 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hughes died in 2014.

On Tuesday afternoon, the police reports listing Polis as the victim in the incident surfaced in a post from the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet that regularly dishes dirt on Democrats, including Polis, a five-term congressman.

Other right-wing websites followed suit, referring to the Free Beacon post.

Conservative operatives and GOP groups were soon firing off irate tweets and press releases, including one issued by the super PAC that supports Walker Stapleton, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, that claimed Polis had “violently assaulted” Hughes — a different conclusion than the one reached by police and prosecutors 19 years ago.

“Polis’ documented assault on his female employee is grossly unacceptable and reveals his true character. Violence against women is reprehensible,” Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays tweeted Tuesday, linking to the Free Beacon post.

None of the posts or statements substantiated their accusation that Polis had assaulted Hughes.

According to police reports and court documents, Polis at the time said Hughes had given her notice a week earlier after he discovered she was using a company credit card for personal expenses.

On the day he called the police, he said Hughes told him she would “go after” him if her departure from the company didn’t go smoothly — she appeared to be concerned that her mortgage lender not discover she no longer had the job — and had been deleting files from a computer when he arrived at the office.

Police at the scene said Hughes had two bruises on her arms that didn’t appear to have been caused by Polis but identified a welt on her leg that could have been caused by running into a key protruding from the file cabinet. In any event, Polis was not arrested or charged.

The police reports identify the businessman as “Jared Polis Schutz,” his name at the time. In 2000 Polis changed his name, taking his mother’s maiden name, Polis, as his last name and using his father’s name, Schutz, as his middle name.

According to court records, Hughes was granted a temporary restraining order against Polis. A few weeks later, the order was vacated and the case dismissed after Polis had a chance to respond.

After Hughes pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets later that year, the judge ordered her to return the documents, undergo mental health treatment and stay away from Polis and the company.

A spokesman for Stapleton’s campaign for governor declined to comment on the matter to Colorado Politics but provided the following statement to a Colorado Public Radio reporter: “Violence against women is never acceptable, and Jared Polis needs to take responsibility for his actions.”

Lisa Kaufmann, Polis’ campaign chair, issued this statement: “Jared Polis was the victim of a crime, was the person who called the police, and was found to have done nothing wrong. Shame on Walker Stapleton for trying to exploit that.”

Load comments