Sunday, May 23, 2010

Colorado Senator Exposed for Self Dealing

Colorado state Sen. Joyce Foster, has undermined the reauthorization of the Sex Offender Management Board. She attached a last minute amendment to the bill modifying the manner in which sex offenders are assigned to treatment. Foster's amendment gave sex offenders a choice of three treatment programs instead of being assigned to a specific program.

The proposal was passed by a voice vote of the legislature. The amendment doesn't sound completely outrageous until you hear the motive. Foster said a treatment agency she thinks mistreated her brother-in-law should be barred from working for the state. Her brother-in-law, Julian Neuman, was a convicted sex offender in Wisconsin. He was involved in treatment with Teaching Human Existence (THE). Due to program failures Nueman was returned twice to authorities in Wisconsin.

Foster, without disclosing her family connection to the program, THE, criticized the provider, saying on the Senate floor, "I personally don't even think (THE) should be on the provider list," as she introduced the amendment, according to the Denver Post.

Governor Bill Ritter has vetoed the bill leaving the Sex Offender Management Board in jeopardy. Ritter's decision will force the legislature to quickly decide early in 2011 whether to reauthorize the board.

According to the Denver Post, Ritter vetoed the bill because, "On an issue that is this critical to public safety and the overall success of the sex-offender treatment program, this failure of adequate vetting and thorough debate constitutes a fatal flaw with the bill."

My Take

Senator Foster's selfish, personal crusade to cause harm to a program that has been widely described as "cutting edge" and "excellent" is the embodiment of a self serving politician. Foster's reckless disregard for the safety and security of the citizens of Colorado is a clear example of why there is disdain for public officials.

Although it is common for lawmakers to use their considerable power to make backroom deals that can harm people or interests we don't often get to see such conduct on the assembly floor. Foster was not politically savvy enough to get this down in private. Instead, she attacked THE when introducing her amendment. For this THE should be grateful, a more skilled politician would have destroyed THE before they knew what hit them.

Foster's antics go on around the country--we just never hear about them.

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