Dems want Frazier to pay back the money

By Jimy Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

The Colorado Democratic Party has called on CD 7 GOP candidate Ryan Frazier to return a portion of his Aurora City Council salary to make up for absences spanning the last two years.

State Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak said Frazier, who is challenging incumbent Congressman Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, has missed 30 percent of his city council obligations in the last two years while campaigning first for U.S. Senate and now in CD 7. Waak is demanding Frazier reimburse the Aurora City Council for 30 percent of his pay.

Don’t hold your breath.

Frazier’s spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said his candidate would absolutely not repay the city. Houlton referenced a Colorado Independent website article where several of Frazier’s colleagues on the board were asked how they felt about the absences. No one said it was an issue.

“It’s really not surprising that they want to change the subject from their horrible record on the economy and focus on something trivial like an attendance record rather than issues that face Colorado and America,” Houlton said.

“It’s appalling that Ryan Frazier thinks it’s no big deal to miss more than a quarter of work for his part-time job and think that he is still representing his district well,” Waak countered.

Perlmutter’s campaign communications director Leslie Oliver said Frazier should pay back the city for missed days of work. She called Frazier’s attendance record unacceptable.

“In a year when so many people are struggling to find jobs, Ryan doesn’t even show up 30 percent of the time to the job he was hired to do by the taxpayers of Aurora,” Oliver said. “Paul Tauer and Bob Beauprez are onto something when they said Frazier ought to be fired and not promoted.”

The city councilmen’s attendance record has become a common theme among his political opponents. Lang Sias, Frazier’s GOP primary opponent, earlier questioned whether Frazier was giving voters their money’s worth. Former CD 7 representative and Sias supporter Bob Beauprez said awhile back, [Frazier] “ought to be fired, not promoted” — a line the Perlmutter camp has expressed repeatedly of late.

The Denver Post reported on May 8 that Frazier had the worst attendance record of any of the 10 city council members from May 2006 through April 2010. The story said Frazier missed 16 council meetings and 12 executive sessions out of 100 meetings during that time.

Frazier’s response to numerous news outlets was that he missed city council meetings in order to support his family. The Aurora City Council pays $12,752 a year.

“Most people understand that I have had to work,” Frazier told The Colorado Statesman. “City council is not a full time position and I have to provide for my family.”

However, according to the campaign, Frazier quit his job at Avaya, a telecommunications firm, in March 2009. He is now a business partner in an information-technology company, Takara Systems, but does not receive income from the business.

“Using the excuse that he has to work to provide for his family is misleading,” Waak said. “We know he hasn’t had a job outside of council since he decided to run for the Senate and then Congress. Although it’s expected for sitting officials campaigning to miss some work, to miss so much over almost two years of campaigning and still think its okay is a big deal.”

When asked about Frazier’s reason for missing city council meetings despite quitting his job in March of 2009, Houlton went after the incumbent. “Ed Perlmutter should return his entire congressional salary for tripling our nation’s budget deficit in the last two years. Colorado’s unemployment rate has doubled since taking office and the fact that their going after an attendance record just shows how desperate they are.”

State Democratic Party communications director Debra Mendez-Wilson compared Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to Frazier to help make their point. She said Hickenlooper largely campaigns on weekends and only in the last couple weeks has he begun taking a few days off to hit the campaign trail. The mayor is a full time job and Aurora City Council is part time, Mendez-Wilson pointed out.

Molly Markert, an Aurora council member from Ward IV, said she doesn’t want to comment on Frazier’s attendance record because she works with Frazier regularly and doesn’t particularly want to make waves. Although Aurora’s City Council is non-partisan, Markert said she is a registered Democrat. She said there is no correlation between dollars paid and the product an incumbent delivers.

“Attendance does not equal service,” Markert said. “I could be a real idiot and show up everywhere and not be doing any good, or I could be real sharp and be real effective when I’m present.”

In a press release Waak listed several examples of Frazier’s missed votes. They include a final vote on Aurora’s budget, establishing a tax levy, a levy of property taxes and a vote on discouraging drug activity.

“Missing the final vote of the city budget in such tough economic times says a lot about his priorities which he claims are the economy and balancing the budget,” Waak said. “Unemployed taxpayers are paying his salary — we think it’s only right for him to give back 30 percent of his city council pay for the votes he has missed.”

Jimy@coloradostatesman.com